Your 3-year-old now
Planned lessons, classes, and activities abound for 3-year-olds, but sign up with care. Activities can easily become too much. Preschoolers who have every moment planned for them don't learn how to entertain themselves, stunting their imagination, creativity, and independence. Even if you like to keep your child busy during the day, downtime is as essential as activity time.
How much is too much? Many child development specialists think one scheduled class or activity in a week is plenty for 3-year-olds. Pay attention to your child's behavior. Notice if she disengages during the class, cries, or refuses to go. Temper tantrums, disrupted sleep, and grumpy mornings are other signals that an activity might not be right or the day might be too structured overall.
Experts agree that there's nothing a 3-year-old can "miss out on" that she can't do in good time when she's older. So if you're the slightest bit unsure about whether your child is ready for dance or gymnastics, wait another year.
Your life now
Having your child strapped into the seat of a shopping cart has been a handy way to run errands ever since she could sit up. But as she heads toward 4, take care to monitor whether this is still safe. Many kids wind up in the emergency room each year when shopping carts tip over or kids clamber out and fall. When your child is too big for the front seat, she'll have to walk alongside you; the grocery part of the cart is not designed to hold children, and it's not safe. Don't ever leave your child unattended in a shopping cart, even for an instant.
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