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Children from 12 to 18 months of age: intellectual development

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Children from 12 to 18 months of age have very intense intellectual development. If you want to know how their thinking, attention, knowledge and understanding develop, this article is right for you. It will help you to better understand children from 12 to 18 months and to raise them properly. 

The ability to thinking in children from 12 to 18 months

Children from 12 to 18 months of age become capable of better exploring space and objects. As they begin to walk, they can finally come to the part of the room that they are interested in. Thus expand their choice of objects that they can manipulate.

Children’s motoric skills are developing more and more, so they become more able to manipulate objects. Of course, the better ability of perceptual-practical thinking is because of more develope perceptions as well. Children begin to perceive the difference between large and small objects, objects of various shapes and colours,… That is why children from 12 to 18 months of age like plays in which objects are distinguished by colours, smaller objects are placed in larger objects, or in which objects are settled to one another by size. Parents should encourage children to play in such ways. Also, parents should participate in these plays and not only because of children’s happiness but also because of improving their abilities, such as intelligence and perceptions, speech, etc.

The appearance of symbolic thinking is a huge change in the quality of children’s thinking at this age in relation to babies on age to 12 months. The base of symbolic thinking is using of performances and words. According to a sudden speaking development, we shouldn’t be surprised by the phenomenon of symbolic thinking. Symbolic thinking and linguistic abilities influence each other. If a child shows in the direction of the object which wants to reach, show on objects that the adults appoint and correctly use some words, then the child has acquired the ability of symbolic thinking.

At the end of this age, about 18 months, children’s symbolic thinking begin to emerge in another way. Namely, they begin to play an imitative play. Actually, children begin to mimic some actions but know that they are not really happening. This way of playing becomes completely noticeable at the next age of children, after 18 months. Nevertheless, at children from 12 to 18 months, its beginnings can be noticed. So, a child at this age can imitate to drink juice from an empty cup or to sleep putting his/her head on a pillow.

Memory and attention in children from 12 to 18 months

The beginnings of imitative plays that occur in children about 18 months suggest that children from 12 to 18 months can imitate some activities often performed by adults, even though they have not seen them for a few days. In fact, this ability of imitation starts from the 15th month, but from 18 months it gets its full meaning. Children begin to remember and repeat more related activities of adults in the exact order. So, shouldn’t be surprised if a child at this age imitates to wipe dust as you did a couple of days ago. It’s enough to do something in front of the child just only once to encourage he/she to imitate same activity. Namely, children at this age become able to remember the activity of the grown-up, although if saw it just once. Activity only must attract their attention.

development of children from 12 to 18 months of age through play

You may not even notice that your child remember some yours activity. Now, he/she is able to pay attention to an action engaging in some other action. For example, your child can watch you while reading the newspaper an listen to the song that is heard in the background at the same time. Also, attention to certain sensations can take longer now, up to 5 minutes. Sometimes, children from 12 to 18 months pay attention to something interesting so carefully that they don’t respond to some other stimuli. For example, if a child plays lego carefully, he/she may not respond to parents’ urging.

Since a child starts to remember things better, the child becomes able to notice a new schedule in the room. It is therefore advisable to change your child’s room schedule frequently and to play with he/she so to train this new skill that gets full meaning at the end of this age. For example, if you come back from a hairdresser, tell your child about your new haircut. It shouldn’t be surprising you if the child even before you say anything, stares at your hair.

Knowledge and understanding in children from 12 to 18 months

From the age of 15 months, children begin to associate their behaviour with the reaction of adults. Therefore, at this age, we should talk up their good behaviour and don’t approve bad behaviour. If you show pleasure every time when your child eats a meal that he/she doesn’t like very much, the child will begin to be happy to eat this meal because that will make you proud.

At the end of this age, children begin to make a difference between people by age. This proves children’s behaviour to seek what they need only from adults, not from other children. Looking for help from adults tells about the emergence of another new skill at this age. Now, children can evaluate when aren’t able to perform the desired action and need help. They also begin to distinguish themselves from others. Therefore begin to respond in their own name and to distinguish themselves from their reflection in the mirror. At the end of this age, children begin to make a difference between some parts of the body. Therefore children from 12 to 18 months of age love questions like where are their nose, eye, ear, …

Even before the end of the previous age, children began to differentiate objects by their functions. Children from 12 to 18 months of age begin to manifest that ability clearly. That’s why they often play sweeping the room by besom, putting on shoes or wiping by swabber.

children from 12 to 18 months: imitative play

About routine actions, children from 12 to 18 months of age can predict the situation and know that an activity has come to end. For example, when you are bathing a child and reaching for a towel, the child will be lifted up in the bathtub, because he/she knows that bathing came near taking the towel. In particular, this skill you can use to create healthy habits in a child. For example, if you wash his/her hands before meal each time, the child will habituate to wash hands before a meal.

Children from 12 to 18 months of age: intellectual development



A child…
… makes distinguish between objects according to some striking characteristics while manipulating them.
… begin to use gestures and words to indicate the objects.
… shows the appearance of the symbolic play.


A child…
… imitates some of the activities often performed by adults, although they haven’t seen them for several days.
… remember the activities of adults even if saw those only once.
… can note that something has changed, that it’s not like he/she remembered that.
.. can remember and repeats adult multiple activities in the correct order.


A child…
… removes attention from one activity to another.
… makes attention to the adult and to some object at the same time.
… makes attention to some activity up to 5 minutes.
… is preoccupied with own activity so much sometimes that it is difficult to remove the child’s attention to other contents.


A child…
… knows how to trigger a specific reaction of adults.
… shows some parts of the body on request.
… makes difference between people according to their age.
… can evaluate when isn’t able to perform the desired action and then ask for an adult’s help.
… knows what is the purpose of certain objects and manipulates those in line with that.
… when an activity or happening is over.

At the end…

If the child deviates from the average characteristics predicted for his/her age, shouldn’t worry. Each child develops according to a particular order, but the development flow is individual. The task of adults is to follow a child’s development. They should know the children development characteristics. According to that knowledge and a child needs, they will encourage the child’s development properly.



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