The foot stomp.
The pouty lower lip.
The pathetic fake cry.
In my house at least, all three occur daily. Or on a bad day, hourly.
When it comes to whining, toddlers are undisputed experts.
Somewhere around age 2 and a half, my children acquired Oscar-worthy acting skills overnight. It was funny at first, but that cute little whimper quickly morphed into nails-on-a-chalkboard whines that only get more annoying with time.
New research has revealed that not only are toddlers experts at the act of whining, they have crybaby radar.
In a study published in Developmental Psychology, toddlers were able to tell the difference between real and fake crying. This isn’t all that surprising to me, since they’re so good at doing both. Who better to decipher the two?
In the study if toddlers witnessed a person experience a distressing event, such as someone not sharing (and let’s face it, that’s about the worst thing that could happen to a toddler), they intervened on the person’s behalf and checked on the person later. If they witnessed a person experiencing distress that they didn’t feel was justified, they weren’t sympathetic.
I love this for 2 reasons: because it shows that even very young children have empathy for others who they perceive as hurting, and because it’s evidence that toddlers are keen observers of those around them.
I think we don’t often give toddlers the credit they’re due. What else do they know that we just haven’t discovered yet?
(If, on the off chance that toddlers can read, here’s a message to the 4 and under crowd: Please tone down the whining, guys. We get it. We’re doing the best we can.)
Photo Credit: iStockphoto