Development of a Bright Toddler
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
I really appreciate your
my question: My daughter (27.5 months) has an extensive
vocabulary, memorizes everything (books, songs, alphabet,
numbers, days of week, months, etc.) and can repeat 'canned'
dialogues (e.g., the answers to what's your name, where do
you live, how old are you, etc.), but she doesn't engage in
'conversation.' She will give a blank stare at a question
like, 'What did you do today?' She repeats everything
and her first instinct on hearing a 'new' question is to
repeat the question...until she's been given the 'right'
answer and then after that, she will answer with that
She does not really engage in pretend or imaginative play
and I'm not sure if it's because we have not fostered it or
modeled it for her. Is that a skill she would develop on her
own? Is she too young for conversation? or even the early
stages of conversation? I worry that she just repeats and
doesn't initiate original conversation topics or recount
things she did on her own. I have a feeling my husband and I
have been poor role models, as we tended to repeat
everything she said and then expand on it, and maybe she
feels that is the way to 'talk.' Any advice would be much
In certain ways, I feel she might be gifted. She started to
talk at 14 months, could recite the alphabet and count to 40
and memorizes rhymes and stories by 16 months, recognize all
the letters (upper and lower case), numbers, shapes, colors
by 18 months. She understands concepts like quantity and
basic addition (e.g., if she wants another ball and she has
one, she'll ask for 2 balls, and then 3 balls, etc.).
Because she excels in these areas, I worry about this other
form of important communication and expressive language.
P.S. I bought the 'Your
baby can read' DVDs that your previous newsletter
recommended, and wow! She can 'read' over 50 words in just 2
months. And she loves those videos.
A: I really don't see a cause
for concern here. Your daughter is perfectly normal in terms
of her speech development and she will get into the
conversational stages in due time. Children develop at
different pace, so allow her natural development. From what
you mentioned, you certainly have been a good role model in
helping her expand on her talk. So, keep doing what you have
been doing and she will be fine.
She has indicated signs of early giftedness and you would
have to nurture her gifts to help her develop her potential
to the maximum. If you have been helping her with her
learning, keep up the good work. If she has developed the
skills quite naturally, you may want to put in some effort
to help her further, as a little help goes a long way rather
than just leaving matters on their own. There is no need to
worry about her communicative and expressive skills; they
will all appear in time to come. Keep on getting her fun
educational materials that enhances her learning. Most
importantly, she must enjoy learning and not forced into
something just because everyone else is doing it. If she
does not engage in pretend play, so be it. Get her to do
something she enjoys.