Fifteen-Month Touchpoint: Symbolic thought

Joshua Sparrow, MD Child Psychiatrist & Author, explains the development changes that a child goes through around the age of fifteen months, including the start of symbolic thought
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Fifteen-Month Touchpoint: Symbolic thought

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There's a really exciting new behavior to watch for at 15 months of age. If you hand a toy to an 8-month old, let's say a saucer and a toy cup, the 8 month old will just bang it, maybe put it on his head, and then put it on the floor. If you hand it to a 12-month old, the baby will examine it, but you don't really see the understanding, this is an object that stands for something. But hand it to a 15-month old, the baby will right away take the toy cup and drink from it. Hand an 8-month old a toy telephone, same thing happens. Will kind of examine it or bang it, but a 15-month old will right away hold it to her ear and start talking. This is called symbolic thought, and it allows for symbolic play. And it's really fun to watch the beginning of this because then it gives you a whole new way of playing with your child.

Joshua Sparrow, MD Child Psychiatrist & Author, explains the development changes that a child goes through around the age of fifteen months, including the start of symbolic thought

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Joshua Sparrow, MD

Child Psychiatrist & Author brazeltontouchpoints.org

A child psychiatrist, Dr. Sparrow’s care in the 1990s for children hospitalized for severe psychiatric disturbances, often associated with physical and sexual abuse, and for developmental delays aggravated by social and economic deprivation, prompted his interest in community-based prevention and health promotion. At the Brazelton Touchpoints Center, his work focuses on cultural adaptations of family support programs, organizational professional development, and aligning systems of care with community strengths and priorities, and has included collaborative consultation with the Harlem Children's Zone and American Indian Early Head Start Programs, among many others. He has lectured extensively nationally and internationally on related topics and has consulted on media programming for children and parents, including PBS’s Frontlines and Discovery Kids. Co-author with Dr. T. Berry Brazelton of 8 books and the weekly New York Times Syndicated column, “Families Today,” Dr. Sparrow has also served as a contributing editor to Scholastic Services’ Parent and Child magazine. In 2006, he revised with Dr. Brazelton Touchpoints: Birth to Three, 2nd Edition and in 2010, co-edited Nurturing Children and Families: Building on the Legacy of T. B. Brazelton, a textbook on the ongoing generativeness of Brazelton’s seminal research in a wide range of fields. Dr. Sparrow has authored numerous other scholarly works, teaches and lectures nationally and internationally, and is frequently called upon for his expertise by national and international media. Prior to attending medical school, Dr. Sparrow worked for several years as a preschool teacher and journalist in New York City.

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