Developmental Milestones of an Above Average Child
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
Q: I notice that my son (Cayden, 13-month)
shows signs that might indicate he's gifted. But I'd like to hear
experts' opinions first. I appreciate your time and effort providing
tremendous help for parents like me.
Before I get to details about my son, I'd like to introduce backgrounds
of my family. I and my husband are from different countries. We live in
California. There are 4 languages spoken in our family. The main
care-takers of my son are my mom and in-laws. They (my mom and in-laws)
take turn for taking care of my son and their time span is usually 5
months each time in US. I communicate with my husband in English. My mom
only talks to my son in Chinese but she talks to me in a different
language than Chinese. In-laws only talk to my son in their native language.
Showed him how to play a spinning toy in 4-month.
He understood that toy would spin if he hit on the target. He tried
couple times. Sometimes he hit the target sometimes he didn't. But I
found out he was very disappointed and upset if he didn't hit the right
target and I stop showing him the spinning toy.
My mother-in-law usually made 'RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR'
vibrating sound using her tongue to distract Cayden's attention while
diaper change. He learned how to mimic that sound as early as
5-month-old (the first month my in-laws start taking care of him). He
also mimics the tongue clicking sound I made and later I found him
always doing that when he's trying to call our family dogs.
Scribbles Spontaneously as early as 6-7 months. He just
love to grab anything out of our hands. One time he sits on my laps
while I was writing something. He grabbed the pen out of my hands and
tried to mimic what I was doing.
Holds Object (Finger Thumb). He start picking up small
items (drop food, paper, hair etc.) on the floor before he's 5 months.
It's like small dust on the floor bothers him a lot that he has to pick
it up. He can pick up an avocado from table in only one hand in 7 months
and coins from wooden floor in 10 months.
He can open a bottle cap (screwed cap) in 9 months. We
didn't teach him. He just learned that by watching us. One day he
grabbed a bottle and opened the cap by our surprised.
Turns pages of a book (10 months).
Throws ball (10 months). In 13 months, he can throw and
catch ball we roll to him.
Walks upstairs (10 months with us holding his hands).
Tack 3 blocks (11 months). When I made a 5 block tower,
he would put the 6th one on the top. But he never wanted to stack more
than 4 blocks by himself.
Walking with no help (12 months).
He loves watching Teletubbies DVD. When he says "laa-laa
(one of the characters), that means he want to watch Teletubbies.
He can say probably 30 words now in 13 months (English &
Chinese). His first word (other than dada meaningless word) is "what" in
my husband's language in his 5 months. Because at that time my in-laws
talked to him a lot. But after in-laws left, it took sometimes for my
son to start talking and build up his vocabularies again.
He understand a lot instructions like "pick up that xxx
and throw it to trash can" and "where is Vimal (my husband)? Vimal is in
his room, go knock on his door" etc. (13 months).
He always wants to be part of our daily chores. For
example, he wants to hold boom and dustpan and pretend he's actually
sweeping the floor. After seeing us water plants, he wanted to join us
too. We gave him a bucket with water and a spoon, he then scoop water
and pour on plants.
We show him his video from the camera screen. We asked
him who is that and he said "den-den". (We call him den-den for nick
Best regards and thank you very much for your time.
From your description, your son does show some distinct characteristics
of children who are developing at a faster pace. There is no doubt that
above average children tend to gain skills faster and sometimes with
more ease than the average child with normal development. And quite
naturally, the advanced development can and does show up in early life,
making acquisition of other skills and abilities also at a faster pace.
What you may want to do now is nurture his potential further. Perhaps, a
good start would be to encourage him to follow his interests at this
point. In case you find that he is fascinated with something, do more of
it and gradually increase its complexity. Please bear in mind that more
work of the same kind may sometimes bore above average children, so it
is always important to try to have variations of the same activity. This
involves creativity on your side. You must also know when to stop - a
good cue is to observe when she starts to lose interest (irritable,
distracted). If this happens, drop the activity and allow her some free
play time. But to stop the activity totally may not be a good idea
(e.g., the spinning toy). It would be good for him to learn and accept
that he may not hot the target everytime and you need to try to ensure
that it is perfectly fine for that to happen. What you can do is to miss
the target yourself and show him that even adults miss targets. Also
allow lots of time for free play (with minimal guidance as long as it is
safe). Pretend play is crucial and this is when they develop their brain
and unleash their creativity.
Ensure that he remains challenged all the time so as not to have any
time to be idle which may cause irritation due to lack of stimulation
and subsequent manifestation in disruptive behaviour. The following are
a few tips that I have proposed on this site - some that you can use at
this stage and some at a later stage to encourage his learning:
For instance, help him determine differences; compare and contrast
For early exposure to math, you can use measurement
words often: little, more, many, half, quarter, etc.
Not sure if he is showing much interest in books, but
you may want to introduce him to the world of books.
You can also watch educational programs with him and ask
him the “whys” and “whats” - and then explain. Since he enjoys
teletubbies, use the programme to help his explore learning further.
Look for similarities and differences and have him group
things that belong.
Talk to him, tell him stories, create a scenario and ask
him about what could happen in certain situations.
You are indeed very fortunate to have extended family visiting for
sometime. Grandparents are very influential in young children's lives
and your son appears to have benefitted very much from his grandparents.
Encourage language learning at this stage. He will pick it up very fast.
After some time, you may also want to look out for play schools which
may be a great environment for him to also develop his initial social
For a better indication of his developmental milestone, please refer to
the guide in the table of '
Developmental Milestones of a Gifted Toddler'. The milestones have been
gathered over many years of research on giftedness. However, please note
that these figures are just guidelines. There are other factors that may
influence development such as general health, specific sensory
disabilities, motivation, etc.
Hope the tips are helpful and have a great learning journey with your
little one. Keep monitoring his progress and encourage his to learn
positively. Wishing you all the best!