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Your 3-year-old now
Your ever-more-independent child is probably starting to develop some friendships. But don't be surprised if, when you ask who her friends are, she recites her entire preschool class list. She doesn't fully understand the meaning of friendship yet. She may have favorites, but to her a "friend" is pretty much anybody she spends time with.
Three-year-olds can play cooperatively with others, but usually not for long. A successful playdate might last less than an hour. Many 3-year-olds continue to play alone but near other children or cooperate briefly and then move on to their own activity. Long interactive play sessions will probably start next year. Some shy children will need several "dates" to feel comfortable with another child.
Although your child probably seems much less self-centered than she did a year ago, she's still struggling with sharing. A young preschooler's way of saying "I'd like to play with you" may be to grab a toy from a playmate or even give him a shove. Some kids may be able to resolve conflicts themselves, but most will still run to a grownup for help. Here's your chance to teach about sharing and taking turns: "Why don't you let Jimmy have the bucket first? Then it's your turn." Most kids this age, just learning the art of negotiating, are willing to accept such compromises.
Your life now
"Hate" and "love" may be your child's two favorite words: "I hate peas!" "I love soccer!" Take them with a grain of salt – don't run out and buy those cleats and knee pads just yet. Your preschooler likes to experiment with these strong words because they help her define who she is.
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