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Advanced Development of a Toddler

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D


Q: What types of behavior would a advanced 2.5 year old display?
My son has a large vocabulary- speaks in full sentences. He asks why, what, who, where and when questions. When interested in an activity will play for long periods of time. He has a wonderful imagination. He started out about 4 months ago pretending to be different characters like one week he was Winnie the Pooh, then kanga and so on. Now for about a month he has imaginary friends. Sometimes there people he knows and sometimes not. Like he has an imaginary cat he named meow. He feeds her and waters her. 

He also has a wonderful sense of humor. He's known his shapes sense he was 13 months old. He knows all basic colors and lots of the alphabet. He counts items all on his own. He points out burnt out light bulbs in stores or holes in the ceiling. He potty trained in a day. No accidents at all and he remembers to go on his own. These are just some of the things he does. Is my son advanced or are all these things normal for his age? Thanks in advance.

A: From your description, your son is advanced for his age. Usually, for children of high ability, the most immediate sign would be a high level of curiosity. You could also look out for early development in motor skills, quantities (vocabulary, complete sentences, sponging in of information, long attention span as in the case of your son), and comparisons (comparing to other children in terms of language used, imagination, creativity and level of understanding from adults).

More specifically, you may also refer to the following points that indicate above average development of a toddler:

  • Ability to listen to the reading of a long book (may also ask to hear again)

  • Early verbal and motor development (talking and walking)

  • Early interest in alphabets, numbers and concepts

  • Strong sensitivity and response to music

  • Ability to absorb rhymes easily and recite them accurately

  • Ability to comprehend justice and fairness (fitting of things in scheme)

  • Ability to sort and organize things

  • Understanding of cause and effect

  • Making inferences and association in new situations

  • Expresses impatience - perfectionist (usually in the form of frustration/tantrums, e.g., when mind is able to perform task that the body is not able to handle)

  • Ability to narrate stories clearly with an ending

  • Ability and enjoyment in completing puzzles

  • Ability to remember and describe complex events even after a period of time

  • Advanced sense of humor

The above abilities are by no means exhaustive and there may be other indications of high ability. Parents should always be observant and make sure any indication of ability is strengthened and focused upon.


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