Your Toddler is Smarter Than You Think
Ever feel like your toddler is super smart? There's a good reason for that. Researchers say young toddlers can reason abstractly.
We all like to think our babies are the smartest little ones ever. We delight in their development and feel proud when they learn something new. For anyone who has seen the movie Baby Geniuses, you know that babies are incredibly smart until they learn to talk. As amusing as that is, there might be a hint of truth to that.
Both of my children regularly surprise me with things they’ve learned—things we haven’t directly taught them. My son, who’s almost a year old, recently made the connection between hands and faucets and pump dispensers. When he sees a sink, he points at it and rubs his hands together in a hand washing motion. He also started doing that when he sees a bottle of lotion or hand sanitizer. I encourage him and verbalize this connection when he does it. At home, it made sense from observing me interacting with those objects. However, he surprised me when he pointed at the hand sanitizer on the Target check out counter and started rubbing his hands together.
In a recent study at the University of California, Berkeley, as reported by NPR, researchers observed toddlers as young as 18-months-old using abstract reasoning.
“‘Older kids tend to be really bad at analogies,” says Caren Walker, a graduate student of cognitive development who led the study. It was published online in the journal Psychological Science. She says that older children tend to focus on the objects rather than the relationships between them. “Learning may actually harm these kids’ abilities to do abstract reasoning.”
The article further stated that, “Walker and Gopnik are repeating the same experiment with older children, to see if they do indeed lose this very early ability to think abstractly, only to regain it later in the context of language and culture.”
It’s amazing how much babies and toddlers learn in a short period of time anyway. The idea that they can think abstractly then possibly lose that ability for a few years is even more fascinating to me. Of course, now I’m concerned that I might ruin this ability inadvertently.
Sometimes I feel like I was much smarter when I was a kid, so this study makes some sense to me. I mean, I know I frequently over-think things which ends up making certain tasks harder rather than easier. No wonder kids think they are smarter than their parents!
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