Some children communicate ideas quite well with gestures before their language skills bloom. At two and half, a child night tug at Mothers blouse and point to the baby, thereby telling her that it is time for baby brother to nurse. Working only with gestures, the child shows concern for the baby.
Another way that your child might first use ideas is through the spatial patterns that he devises when playing with his toys. A child who organizes a long, straight line of toy cars clearly has a preconceived mental picture that gives structure to his game. When the child opens a gate in a wall of blocks and drives car through, she is demonstrating yet another idea.
As a parent, it is important for you to recognize your child’s ability to deal with abstract concepts, no matter what form of expression that ability takes. Whether he first uses language, gestures, spatial relationships or pretend play to express his ideas, you will want to encourage this development: using ideas to manage feelings is an important milestone on the road to emotional maturity. It is a skill your child must master in order to bring the raw, self centered impulses of his early childhood under control and to learn to live harmoniously with other.
The capacity to use ideas does not emerge full blown overnight. It develops in stages that you can observe. In the first stage which typically begins at about 18 months the child will employ ideas simply to communicate something she wants. She may use words to ask for apple juice, gesture for her favorite blanket or tug at your leg for a hug.