Your 3 1/4-year-old: Getting handy

Your 3 1/4-year-old: Getting handy

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Your 3-year-old now

Before your child masters writing and brain surgery, he needs to build the muscles in his hands and wrists and learn to use them precisely. Ten great ways to help him develop dexterity:

  • When cooking, let him use a rotary beater, measuring cups and spoons, and a spatula or spoon.
  • Dress and undress dolls together.
  • String beads or pasta.
  • Work in the yard with a hoe and spade.
  • Draw outside with sidewalk chalk.
  • Put cups and other things to pour with into the bathtub or kiddie pool.
  • Work with clay. For more fun, supply cutting and molding tools, too.
  • Finger paint.
  • Play musical instruments like a drum, xylophone, toy piano, or castanets.
  • Squirt shaving cream in the bathtub and let your child "write" in it.
  • Look for sewing cards in a toy store.

Your life now

Your child tends to get pretty absorbed when he's playing. So when you need him to stop and move onto something else, be sure you give plenty of warning in terms he can understand: "You can go down the slide two more times and then we have to leave the park and go home." Or, "When the timer dings, it'll be time to wash your hands for lunch."

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