Nurturing an Advanced Toddler
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
My 29 month old son has always surprised us, by being overly developed
for his age. It started with how active he was in the womb. My husband
would simply put his mouth to my stomach, and tell him to stop hurting
mommy, and he would relax instantly. When he was born, he was literally
3 minutes old, and he knew who was mom and who was dad, he instantly
smiled at his dad, and took hold of his hand.
He was a big baby, always
at the high ninety percentile with growth, and he was far more developed
when it came to his appetite. He is not even three and he is pushing
four feet. He has a vocabulary of single words over 275, which includes
all of his body parts, names of family members and friends, animals, colors, numbers, shapes, movies and their characters.
He can count to
19 on his own, and 35 with help. He knows his alphabet up till the
letter P, he runs and jumps and attempts hand stands, and climbs
bookshelves, and just recently he started a new talent. He was watching
flies in the window, and reached out and snatched it by its wings. did
not kill the fly, just brought it to me by its wings, fly still buzzing
away. he caught four flies in a span of 5 minutes. how is that possible?
Also, we live in an apartment building with 8 floors and 138 apartments,
and he already knows where all of our friends live, and my mother, and
he knows what floor they live on as well as what door is theirs. Is our
child gifted or just exceptionally advanced? If he is either one, what
is the next step? Do we have him tested? Please help, I want to give my
son the best of life, and I don't want to stunt his mind by slacking off.
A: Your son does appear to display some
distinct characteristics of gifted children and you would be the best
person to determine this.
I do not encourage testing for very young children unless it is a
learning problem or a disability, for which diagnosis allows for early
intervention. You may want to wait until he is in preschool. What you
can do is to guide his learning. Expose him to a variety of learning
materials; different ones at each time. When you see him interested in
anyone, go a step further - either increase the level of difficulty or
use a different material of the same sort. E.g., puzzles or blocks. If
he enjoys insects, take him out in the open and introduce him to other
The world of books should be introduced sooner than later. This is where
gifted children learn and enjoy the most. They are able to find
information without constantly wondering and asking and not getting the
answers. This would feed their intellectual needs. Do look at the other
responses on suggestions of activities in the previous newsletters.
At this stage, you can introduce him to the social world as well.
Perhaps, a play school would be good for exposure to learning and peers.
Children learn better in the company of others and it would help him
make friends. Gifted children sometimes get bored with the same people
and environment so a play school is a good place for some planned
activity for toddlers.
Do also look for resources in your area and surf the internet which has
many sources to help parents with above average children. All the best.