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Nurturing an Advanced Toddler

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: 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 insects.

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.


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