Experienced Replies on the Normal Cognition and Development of Children 2-4 - Austin,TX

Updated on May 12, 2009
S.C. asks from Austin, TX
5 answers

I wonder at what age are kids really able to count items with definity, and answer with the actual 'yes' when they mean yes and 'no' when they actually mean no? I know this varies so much from child to child, yet there is a span of age where it's reasonable to expect. Today I discovered that my 2yr.+3mo. old baby girl cannot actually count the 5 strawberries on the page when asked. She counts to 5 and then keeps right on going whilst she is continually tapping at a single strawberry. It's a little disconcerting, but I know she'll come along at her own rate. Another thing that she does at this point is answer in opposites. She says 'yes' when she means no. This happens most often in reference to eating and dirty diapers. We have made a concerted effort Not to give her any kind of complex about dirty diapers or food--she eats when she wants--none, a little, or a lot--yet I still have to wonder when these things might 'shift'? A Curious Dad.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the info.; it helps me to relax realizing that things are as they should be and also what to focus on to assist this learning process.
Thank you!!

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answers from Austin on

Yeah, my daughter is 38 months... She still has a tendency to count "the Enron way" (LOL!) although she tends to do it more now when she gets between 15-20.

At your daughter's age, she is still rote counting, meaning her focus is on sequential order and verbalizing/remembering what number comes next. Applying each number to a specific item (and then instantly remembering which number was assigned to that item) is a much more advanced milestone.

It might be easier for her to understand counting and number assignment if the items are tangible (and she can hold the ones she has already counted) instead of applying numbers to a picture. However, keep in mind that at 18-30 months, her brain is primarily wiring itself for gross motor skills and fine motor skills: Coordination, balance, being able to move different parts (e.g., left leg, right arm) of her body simultaneously in opposite ways, target and aiming. Now is the time to increase your attention and efforts to motor skill milestones.

Below are some links. Hope they help plan your strategy better:



From http://www.gdrc.org/kmgmt/learning/child-learn.html:
Math skills: These skills develop with much practice and we encourage their development as the child is ready.The child begins to count for fun (rote counting). Then they begin to see the purpose for counting and begin counting objects in a set (meaningful counting). Next they begin adding to or subtracting objects from a set. They begin comparing objects in a set. Then the child begins sorting (by size, shape, color, etc.) and ordering (by size, first-second-third, etc). They enjoy learning to estimate (guess how many) and predict (what will happen next). They begin to sequence objects (red, yellow, blue, red, yellow, ____). This is a slow process and requires a lot of practice. At last the child begins to recognize numbers and associate the number with a like number of objects. They also begin to write numbers. Later, they will write the number words. If we make this learning fun, children will enjoy learning math through their school years.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Not at all a problem. Your daughter knows counting, but not yet "one to one correlation." This is totally normal at this age. She will probably start by knowing if she sees one of something, and then two ( How many feet do I have?) Values after two will come later. The yes/ no confusion will probably end in the next couple months. Not to worry. As long as her vocabulary and desire to express herself through language is increasing, she is on track.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

You are correct it will depend on the child. Most children by the age of 4 can really count and know what it means. Most can add to their count and take away from their count by the end of 4 going into 5 and understand the concept.. This does not include written numbers.

"Yes" and "no" is still a concept to her. At 27 months, she is still testing language and many children this age are actually looking to others for cues. We may not realize it, but much of the language at this time is done this way. She is looking at you while she gives this answer and if it is incorrect, she switches her answer.

She is still very young this all sounds "normal" or "average".. Talk talk talk to her, ask her questions. Read read read. This is the best way for a child to learn about language. When you are at the store ask her to help you "find the apples". Ask her "what color are they?"

Tell her you want 4 apples and then you count them while you hand them to her to put in the bag..
Point things out to her. If she points, tell her what it is or ask her, "What is that?" If she does not know, it does not matter, it is teaching her to ask on her own...At this point, just encouraging any language and expanding vocabulary is the goal on speech.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Good for you, dad. Your little girl is fortunate. I am sorry I can't answer your question directly but I can tell you this. I have three pretty smart grown children who learned to count in conversational ways and through counting books. I never worried about age related milestones. I believe if I were you, when your little one continued to count, I would just say, there are five strawberries. Now, let's turn the page and count six penguins. Then, in the grocery store, you could continue the conversation. "Let's choose four oranges." "Let's get one cabbage." And, at home, "How many books are on the shelf?" I believe she will make the connection better as she relates the numbers to objects she can touch. Other suggestions: read nursery rhymes to her, let her string beads of different colors, sing songs, take nature walks, put puzzles together. How do you handle play dates? Hopefully, she has time to play with other children her age. I believe you will get a whole lot of good advice. It is such fun to raise children and help them form their values, learn self discipline and the time goes by so quickly. Enjoy every moment.



answers from Austin on

Hello, I have a three year old boy, and he started counting around the age of 2, and got his yes and no's down, but still has a hard time with colors. Sometimes I wonder if he is just messing with me, or maybe playing his own game. But basically, they all learn at such a different pace. Even today he loves to count things, but sometimes gets his numbers in the wrong place, like if he is counting to ten but wants to go fast he says 1,2,3,4,9,10. and then thinks he got it, or maybe he got me. We just start over after a friendly reminder of what comes after 4. Keep on playing! and have FUN learning!

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