Your Child's Brain in Week 81
You know that if you look out the window at the moon, your child will follow your gaze. You also know that if your toddler watches as you angrily reprimand her preschool sibling for grabbing a pack of matches, she will likely not touch the pack in front of you, either. (Who wants to be yelled at by Mom?)
But what if those matches are sitting on the coffee table next to the candle they're intended for, and your toddler notices that your eyes are focused on your magazine instead of her? Will she avoid the matches, or will she pick them up?
What the Research Shows
In one study, 18-month-olds sat on their mothers' laps while watching a researcher play with three novel toys, one at a time. Then another adult entered the room (we'll call her the "emoter") and yelled at the researcher for playing with one of the toys, as if it were a forbidden object.
After a short period of time, the emoter sat across the table from the child while the researcher offered each toy to the child. In trial after trial, the children eagerly played with the two toys that hadn't been objects of the emoter's wrath, but touched the forbidden toy only when the emoter gazed at a magazine. If the emoter looked toward the child, the child left the forbidden object alone.
Week 81 Brain Booster
At this young age, your child's limited reasoning skills and self-control keep her from realizing that even though you're reading a magazine or doing dishes, you're still keeping her behavior in mind—and you will look at her periodically to make sure she's not doing something you told her sibling (or cousin or neighbor-buddy) not to do.
Some toddlers, determined to satisfy their curiosity about a forbidden object, will sneak toward it when the parent's attention is diverted, or actually say to Mom or Dad, "Don't look at me." It's important to not take such behaviors personally ("She's defying me!") or make snap judgments ("My toddler is so sneaky!"). It's simply immature cognitive development at play. Not until about 24 months will your child begin to comply with your prohibitions even when you're not looking directly at her.
The bottom line? Your eagle-eyed days aren't over! For safety's sake, if a forbidden object is within your child's reach, watch her constantly—or better yet, remove the item.
Coming soon, look forward to: Week 82: Acquiring Language Quickly
Review the most recent accomplishments: Week 80: Applying Solutions from One Problem to Another
Curious about how else your toddler might be developing right now? Learn more about her clever brain and her growing body here: