Your child’s transition to pretend play (“Let’s pretend . . .”) and spoken language is a significant developmental milestone. As your toddler relaxes his reliance on the physical, tangible world and begins to imagine things in his mind, he can connect and replay experiences that have occurred in the past or under different circumstances.

Mentally creating new ideas based on bits of information from past behaviors or feelings your child has experienced stretches thinking skills and helps her make sense of a complex world. Refining how objects and behaviors are categorized and ordered in the world will still take some time, however.

At twenty-eight months, your child might make a connection between something unfamiliar, such as a tree creaking in the wind, with a sound from a “scary” cartoon character. Your child will also likely make substitutions with and for real objects in play. Using a toy lawn mower to vacuum the carpet is an example.

Your toddler is learning to manipulate the world of symbols and in doing so is attaining a higher level of awareness and communication. Your child can now think about his behavior, and your behavior, and talk about it. Now your looks and words can grab his attention. This little “pause” gives him a few seconds to consider a response rather than simply react.

The next time your toddler is banging on the kitchen table with impatience, stay calm and ask your small percussionist through your facial expression and body language, “What’s the rush?”