Why Toddlers Don’t Do as They Are Told
Apparently, it’s not because they want to make us tear out our hair. Researchers at the University of Colorado have been studying toddlers and older children, and they’ve decided that toddlers just don’t think the way adults and older children do.
Toddlers live in the present, as the parent of any toddler knows very well. Only what’s happening right now matters to a two or three year old. Trying to explain to a toddler that if they can’t leave their current dollhouse project soon, then there won’t be enough time to go to the park before dinner, is an exercise in futility.
So why can’t toddlers understand that there will be consequences of their actions? Or that what happens now affects what happens in the future? And why don’t they believe us when we say that yes, they really do need their coat on or they will be cold outside?
The researchers aren’t really sure, and they don’t have much helpful advice in getting your toddler to put their coat on. It’s part of the brain’s development process, and gradually children learn to consider what will happen in the future. And then they turn into adults and spend too much time stressing about the future.
But right now, I guess us parents just have to appreciate that our little ones just don’t have a grasp of planning for the future. When we ask our toddlers to do something, we are often asking them to think about something that is going to happen, and toddlers find that very difficult or impossible to understand. And that’s why they can be so resistant or uncooperative when we tell them not to put their fingers in the door hinge or they will get squashed.