Whirlwind is the key word for this month. Your toddler can go anywhere he wants now and his curiosity gets him into many difficulties. He has no awareness of the consequences of his actions. Hold steady. Stay consistent. Be there for him. As his mastery of speech improves, so will his behavior.
What Your Toddler is Learning
Fifteen months is a key time to evaluate your child’s progress. Children do not develop at a steady rate nor in all areas evenly. All children, however, do progress through the same stages in the same order. This is when having recorded your child’s progress would help. Compare your records with the following milestones.
Milestones and ages at which 75% of children reach them:
- Picks up a small object between forefinger and thumb at 12½ months
- Stands alone, 10 seconds or more at 13 months
- Walks alone well at 13½months
- Indicates wants some way other than crying at 13½months
- Holds and drinks from a cup by himself at 14 months
- Says four to six words including names at 15 months
- Tolerates some separation from parents at 15 months
If your child did not reach two or more milestones by the age indicated, you should discuss the matter with your pediatrician. If your toddler’s rate of development is slow, it is time to begin taking action to help him. Early intervention has the best outcome.
Going barefoot helps improve balance and coordination. Give your little one lots of time without shoes on safe surfaces. But as you go outside and when the floor is too cold, he will need to begin to wear shoes.
His first shoes should have sturdy, flexible, non-slippery soles. They should grip the heel firmly, but leave lots of room for wigging toes. At this age, he will out-grow his shoes every 2-3 months. Many serious foot conditions later in life can be prevented by properly fitting shoes in childhood.
Don’t forget that his socks also need to be large enough for his growing feet. After pulling his socks on, pull them out again at the toes to keep from cramping his toes.
Your toddler is very interested in sounds now. He will stop to listen to rain or traffic sounds or to distinguish familiar voices from TV or radio. He will listen intently to meaningful speech and ignore meaningless chatter.
He is discovering the difference between “b” and “p.” They are formed the same way but one is voiced and the other is not. He can distinguish “t” and “k.” These are made in different parts of the mouth. “B” and “d” are made with the lips or tongue. He is making the connection between the sound and how the sound feels in his mouth, throat, lips, and tongue.
The number of words he can say is increasing now. Most of his words are nouns, although he may be learning words like “more.” And his favorite word is probably, “no.” Some early talkers may be combining words like, “allgone” and “whazzat?” He understands a lot more than he can speak.
Much of his language learning is related to the people in his life. He learns best with a loving audience and people who will take the time to listen and respond to him. Let him know you are listening by taking the time to make eye contact when he talks and respond with a comment or question of your own.
Spend a lot of time reading together. Even if he doesn’t want to sit on your lap while you read, he will enjoy patting the book while you read or turning the pages. Don’t worry about reading the entire book. Turning pages is also a skill he need to learn.
Avoid using baby talk, since it can be confusing. When he uses a word, but mispronounces it, use it in a sentence with the correct pronunciation. This will help him add new words to his vocabulary and help his speech become clearer.
He has learned that he is a separate person from you, not an extension of you. When he looks at himself in the mirror, he recognizes himself and no longer tries to touch the “other” baby in the mirror.
Your 15 month old wants your attention. He wants to play and discover on his own, but whatever he does, he wants you to see. If you haven’t been looking, he will bring what he found to you or try to take you to see it.
He wants to see what effect his behavior has on other people. He will try to make you and other adults react. He’ll try using gestures, crying, screaming, poking, and pushing. He will learn what gets the reaction he wants from each of the adults in his life. He may learn that asking in a quiet voice works better with you than screaming and that poking dad while he’s watching TV gets the job done. Consistently reinforcing the behavior you want will soon teach him what is acceptable and what is not.
He has learned how objects should be used. He knows combs are for hair, spoons are for stirring, and brooms are for sweeping. Now he is able to begin pretending. He may pick up a spoon and pretend to eat from it or close his eyes and pretend to sleep. For now his pretending closely mirrors real actions.
Ways You Can Help
Games to play:
Role-play– Pretend to be a dog and encourage your toddler to pretend to be a cat. You bark and he can meow. Then you try being a little kitten and him a big dog. He will think this great fun and he will gain confidence by being the big one for a change.
This is a problem-solving game. The goal of this game is to teach your toddler that numbers are worth telling apart. To begin: take two identical opaque plastic containers to cover a treat. Use one inch (2.5 cm) black dots on the side of the container facing your child. Put one black dot on one container and two dots on the other one. Always put the treat under the container having more dots, but randomly put that container on his left or right.
Out of his view, hide a treat in the container with two dots. Show him the dots and tell him, “This one has one dot and that one has two dots.” Then tell him to find the treat. If he finds it on the first try, he gets his reward. If he misses, take both containers away for about 30 seconds and then replace them exactly as they were before. Chances are he will choose the right one this time. At the next sitting, flip a coin to see which side you put the treat on. This will keep him from always reaching one direction.
Keep score of how many tries it takes him to find the treat. When he makes four out of the last five tries, consider that he has learned the code. Now you can increase the difficulty. Put two dots on one and three on the other. Continue to put the treat under the container with the higher number of dots. He may choose the two dots at first because he recognizes it. It should take him fewer total tries to learn this code. If he has really learned the code, it should take him fewer still to find the treat when you increase to six and four dots. (Arrange the dots in a circle to prevent his responding only to the length of the line.)
If you want to go to the next level, reverse the code. Now the one with the fewest dots covers the treat. It will take him more tries to learn the reversal, but fewer than the first time with the other code.
(This idea, thanks to the Growing Child 15 Months, 1978, Dunn and Hargitt, Inc., Lafayette, IN , USA)
He wants to use ordinary objects in make believe play. Give him toy tools or a toy golf club to use like he sees Dad using or keys to pretend to open locks. He will enjoy pretend phone calls and even being a visitor knocking on the door.
What to Expect Next
- Putting finger to mouth and saying “shhhhh”
- Becoming attached to a soft toy or other object
- Stacking 3 blocks on each other
At 15 months children begin to be able to think symbolically. They begin to experiment with imagination and are able to believe in things they cannot see. This is the ideal time to begin giving your child a foundation for his faith.
Before you can teach him, you need to decide what you believe. You don’t need to have all the answers, but you do need to be on the journey of discovering your own faith. If you and your husband have differing faiths, now is the time to decide how you are going to instruct your child about spiritual matters. Don’t leave it to chance, confusion will be the result.
Begin early– Just like your toddler understands that Grandma exists even though he can’t see her, he will understand that God exists because you say so. Introducing your spiritual practices now will make them a natural part of his whole life.
Use daily events– The Bible tells parents to talk about God when you sit at home, when you walk along the path, when you wake up in the morning, and when you go to bed at night. Incorporate your teaching into every area of life.
Pray together– Pray a simple prayer before meals and before he goes to bed. Pray for him when he is hurt and encourage him to pray for things he needs and for people he loves. He should learn that prayer is how we talk with God anytime.
Appreciate nature– Nature is our most tangible evidence of God’s existence and provision for us. Comment on the beauty of creation and teach respect for God’s creatures. Plant a garden and daily water it and watch for signs of life with your child.
Tell stories– The heroes of our faith make great models for our children. Lessons in right and wrong behavior and family traditions and practices can be explained by Bible stories. Children love stories and this is an easy way to teach your faith.
Make it fun– Act out the stories you have read. Sing and dance to your favorite choruses and worship songs. Teaching sign language to go with the songs is great fun for your child.
Daily quiet time– Pray with your child and hold him and soothe him while you take a few minutes to pray. It is good for your child to see you have your quiet time and to know this is time for him to be quiet too. Remember his attention span is very short and don’t require him to sit still too long.
Regularly attend church– Besides learning the doctrines and practices of your church, he will find his place in the community of faith. He will make friends with the children and have more adults to give him the joy of belonging. Church will become a place he feels comfortable and secure.
Heavenly Father, I want to teach my child about You and how You want us to live. Please help me to know You better. Help me practice my faith consistently and joyfully with my child. Help me to never do anything to hinder my child’s growing faith in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen