Why toddlers don’t take NO for an answer
Why is toddler behaviour difficult to crack? Maybe they're not getting on your nerves just for fun. There is a scientific explanation! Find out here.
According to a senior scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Dr Paul Frankland, infantile amnesia is caused by the extremely fast development of nerve cells in a part of the brain that registers events and records them as memories—the hippocampus. Due to an “overload” in the hippocampus when forming new neurons, the “filing” takes a back seat.
What this means, basically, is that the memory for skills develop faster than the memory for facts. Your toddler is too busy learning new skills that his brain forgets, or leaves out the countless times you’ve told him ‘no’ to something.
Go easy on your tykes, they’re doing their best at learning and developing. Be patient and gently reiterate your message to them – it isn’t like they’re doing it on purpose!
Toddler behaviour: The rat maze test
To test this theory, Dr Frankland performed a test on a group of baby mice. He deliberately slowed down their hippocampus development. He initially taught the mice how to go through the maze and just like human toddlers, the baby mice would actually not recall how to navigate the maze in a few days.
However, with their neurons set on developing at a slower rate, these baby rodents could actually remember how to find their way out of the maze days after being trained.
You may not be too fond of the fact that it sounds as if we just compared your kids to a bunch of rodents. Before you get too upset though, what we’re trying to say is, be patient with them. Your toddlers are learning and growing as fast as they can – their brains are hurrying to store all the information they can.
This means that sometimes, they forget something you feel like you only just chided them about. We’re sure in time they will stop trying to fit that toy in their mouth or climb on that chair!
Change your approach!
If you’re toddler still refuses to listen to what you have to say, maybe it’s time you changed your approach. Perhaps you’re being too hard on them. Giving them too much instruction or even failing to believe in your own methods.
Children can sense these things. If they feel that you aren’t too sure of yourself and the instruction you’re giving them. So they won’t feel inclined to do as you are saying. Phrase your sentences differently, refrain from ending sentences with questions such as ‘okay?’ or ‘is that fine?’.
Be a little more assertive, remember to remain gentle but firm. Do this while trying to see things from your child’s point of view. Let them know that you know your instruction may not be the most fun option but it needs to be done.
Children, as with all human beings, like to feel in control and like they’re being given a say in things. When they feel like you understand why they ‘don’t want to leave the playground’ or think ‘cleaning up is a waste of time’, they will be more ready to do so. Remember, like you, your children like to feel important and as if they’re opinions matter!