Parenting From Ages 3 to 4

Parenting a preschooler is a hands-on activity! Children this age are curious and mobile. But their brains don’t yet work like big-kid or adult brains – far from it! At their current stage of development, they don’t rely on memory to guide their behaviour. They live in the here and now.

This focus on the present means gaining your preschooler’s cooperation and setting limits is a common challenge. Children may resist at first but setting reasonable limits for behaviours leads to a more pleasant, predictable household. When kids are older, they are more likely to apply your rules to keep themselves safe.

Have you heard of resiliency?

Resiliency means the ability to bounce back from life’s challenges. You can help your child build resilience throughout their life. They’ll build confidence, learn self-control, and be a more positive person.

Your checklist for 3 to 4 years

✓ Book an eye examination before your child starts kindergarten. About 1 child in 6 has some form of vision problem. Exams are free of charge and covered by OHIP.

✓ If your child can spit, it’s time to start using a small (pea size) amount of toothpaste with fluoride when you brush.

✓ Plan plenty of active playtime with your child (especially outdoors)

✓ Be a good role model by being active yourself

✓ If your child is participating in a sport that recommends a mouthguard, choose one that suits the activity and your budget

✓ Continue to cap screen time at less than 1 hour per day until age 4

✓ Once a month, lift your preschooler’s top lip and check the teeth for any changes. Contact a dentist if you see signs of white lines or brown spots on the teeth.

Local activities

Museums often have family-friendly activities and events. Check out the following links to find what’s on at a museum close to you:

Your local Ontario EarlyON Child and Family Centre has early learning programs, parent education sessions, and community resources. Check out your local program calendars:

If you live in Guelph, you probably have a Neighbourhood group. Find supports and services specific to your neighbourhood by searching the map

Libraries have a great selection of books, music, and movies. They also offer free kids programs and story time.

Check out your local Parks and Recreation department for activities offered in your area:


  • If you can’t afford to pay for dental care for your child, we have programs to help. To find out more, call the Dental Line at 1-800-265-7293 ext. 2661.

Looking forward? Read ahead to 4 to 5 years >