Emotions & Self-Awareness "I Can Do It:" Building Your Three-Year-Old's Self-Confidence

From taking their first steps to learning how to read, children gain self-confidence as they master new skills. This gives them courage to continue to explore and expand their abilities. A three-year-old's desire to "do it myself" can be both exciting and frustrating. As you see them express interest in trying something new, teach them strategies that will help them master the skill. They will develop confidence as they practice these new tasks and recognize their progress. 

Help grow your child's confidence:

Start Small

Stay alert to the cues your children are sending you that they are ready to dress themselves, wash their own hair or climb into the car seat by themselves. Responding positively to these first steps will build a foundation for raising a remarkably capable and responsible young person. Allow children a chance to struggle, fuss, even cry before rushing to their sides and trying to end their frustration. Sticking with a task and working hard to solve a problem fosters self-confidence.

In My Bathroom

Daniel Tiger is learning how to take care of himself by brushing his teeth and washing his hands. In this game, your child can play about and practice some bathroom routines.

Play This Game

Practice, Practice, Practice

In order for children to develop resiliency to forge on through the ups and down that go hand in hand with all learning, they will need oodles of practice time. As parents, we need to step out of the way and allow our children to make mistakes and encourage them to keep trying. If your three-year-old made lunch for the first time (after many failed attempts and with jelly all over the floor), pause for a moment and celebrate. This is progress! Acknowledge it and move forward to the next thing.

PBS Parents Play & Learn

Designed specifically with parents in mind, this app provides more than a dozen math and literacy games that parents can play with their kids. Each game builds on the natural curiosity of children and is themed around a familiar location like the garden or grocery store.

Play This Game

Never Do for a Child What a Child Can Do for Themselves

Identify what tasks your children are capable of handling and let them do them. If he can put on his shoes independently, let him. If she can put on her coat, let her, and step in if she asks for help zipping it up. Resist the urge to step in and make the process quicker. Instead, try to provide time for them to complete the tasks.

Proud Pictures: Drawing What We Learned

Learning something new can be exciting! Talk with your child about new accomplishments and create illustrations of the things she has learned to do.

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Help Your Child Manage Emotions with Daniel Tiger

Through imagination, creativity and music, Daniel and his friends learn how to manage big and overwhelming feelings using strategies grounded in the teachings of Mister Rogers.

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Activity Finder: Learn With Your Three-Year-Old

Explore our Age-by-Age Guide: