Our 3-year-old son has no concept of time. He cannot separate what we did six months ago, last week, or just before nap time.

At 3 years of age, children do not have a true understanding of what a day, week, or month is. In fact, children do not truly understand the concept of time until the first or second grade. With this in mind, focus on introducing your son to concepts such as before and after, and talk to your son about what he did yesterday and what he wants to do tomorrow. Those types of conversations can help your child understand the difference between past and future. You can also create a calendar or scrapbook and work together to draw a picture of, or write about, a special event or activity that happened that day. As you look at the pictures before bedtime, you might ask him to include things that he is excited to do the next day. This will help your son recall what he did each day, as well as think about activities he has done in the past, and what he is looking forward to doing in the future. 

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

Child Development Expert

Jennie Ito is a mother of two and a child development consultant who specializes in children’s play and toys. Before becoming a consultant for LeapFrog, she was an intern at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and later worked as a content expert for the Association of Children’s Museum’s “Playing for Keeps” Play Initiative. Jennie earned her doctorate degree in developmental psychology at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.