eighteen month old son pushed the toy train around the tracks at the children’s
Toy transportation, such as trains, cars, trucks, boats and
planes, are popular play items for both boys and girls as they learn about the
world around them. Often these are some
of the first things children learn about through board books, puzzles and toys.
Not only are they learning about how people move about in
the world, but they are also learning that objects can move when they have wheels
and wings. Who knew that we were
teaching our kids rudimentary physics when we bought that toy car?
Imaginary play is an important milestone for toddlers. When you see your child pretending with a toy
train or car, it is a sign of significant brain development. Prior to imaginary play, your child had very
concrete thinking—for example, "Here is an object in
front of me and I can make it move or cause it to make noise."
Now as an eighteen-month old, he can start to imagine that
the truck has a purpose, such as picking up a load of supplies from across the
imaginary town. As he has the truck work
with the other vehicles, a story unfolds.
When you watch your child engage in pretend play, you are
seeing evidence of your child’s creative mind evolving and the very beginning
of abstract thinking. Along with this development,
you may see your child tell stories and develop imaginary friends.
If your child is not doing any type of pretend play by late
toddlerhood, especially by two-years of age, you should consult your child’s
doctor. Sometimes this is can be an
early sign of abnormal neurologic development and further evaluation should be
done to rule out social-behavioral disorders.
During this stage of brain development, your child may also
begin having nightmares as his ability to imagine evolves. To reduce the frequency of nightmare or night
terrors or even normal nighttime fears, minimize your child’s exposures to
potentially scary subjects, including television shows, movies or videos that
may be perceived as scary for your child. If your child has nightmares or night terrors, comfort your child and
reassure him that he is safe and that you are there to protect him. Many times in the morning the child does not
remember what happened at all. So, it is
usually harder on us than it is for them!