Your Clever Toddler in Week 75: Realizing Objects Don't Have Intentions
What your child learns this week
Week 75 Brain Booster
So your toddler’s not about to follow the vacuum around and imitate its cleaning abilities, and she’s not going to twirl like a mixer or mimic a coat rack—phew! But this new skill means more than that.
Your child is beginning to comprehend that intentions and goals motivate the behavior of people, but not the behavior of things. Last year, your child grasped that some objects required assistance to move, whereas others could get going on their own. Now, she’s sensing much deeper differences between people and things:
- As a human and not an object, you (and other people) have internal, unseen motivations that make you do what you do.
- Even though she can’t actually see you thinking about what you’re going to do next, your child knows that something about you being a person and not a thing means that that’s happening—that your actions are deliberate, even if your attempts to achieve certain goals fail.
- If you, as a human, can attempt these actions, so can she. As this study shows, children sees themselves as being more like you than like the machines or objects around them, so your actions are the ones your child is interested in imitating.
- When it comes to how and why things move, your toddler is realizing she just can’t attribute the same internal motivations. She’s discerning that the movements of things can only be the result of mechanically charged motions and not any mental state or intention.
Think about it: As your child begins to better comprehend her world, it’s important for her to know that there are actual physical reasons for explaining objects’ actions as opposed to psychological reasons for explaining the behavior of people. Young children come to understand that car keys don’t hide themselves. They are things, and people misplace them. Likewise, a sippy cup doesn’t just fall from a table on its own, and a toy on a high shelf requires some help if it’s going to get down to the ground.
In coming months, this knowledge will help your child understand so many other concepts—tools help us get stuff done, all things can and should have names, and a banana can look like a telephone. (Excited yet? Read on!)
Curious about how else your toddler might be developing right now? Learn more about her clever brain and her growing body here:
- What’s happening in Month 18?
- Here’s what our pediatrician says you might be worried about this month.
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