A new excuse for your badly behaved child

Posted Monday 3rd June 2013   By Ericka Waller

So some clever neuroscientist may have discovered why toddlers do the same things over and over again, even when they are told not to, according to a recent article in the Daily Mail.

‘Dr Paul Frankland theorizes that ‘infantile amnesia’ is due to the rapid development of nerve cells in the hippocampus – the part of the brain that registers events and stores them as memories. Since neurons develop more slowly after the age of three, only then is a child is able to form and maintain long-term memories.’

So basically, according to Dr Paul Frankland, we are just going to have to suck it up when they don’t stop pulling the heads off prize flowers, kicking the back of our car-seats, or asking for a glass of water, then pouring it on the floor to make a puddle to jump in – when we’ve repeatedly asked them not to.

Instead we are supposed to think “It’s not their fault, poor simple child. They can’t remember the earful I just gave them.”

PURE TROUBLE1 300x300 A new excuse for your badly behaved child

I’d have liked to have watched Dr Paul Frankland carry out his experiment.

He used mice.

I think that was his first error.

I am not sure how naughty a mouse can be. Perhaps if he’d used Thing-One or Thing-Two for his studies he might have come up with a different conclusion.

For example, did the mouse used in the experiment, grin from ear to ear whilst repeatedly doing things he had been asked not to ? (“Get away from the mousetrap, I’ve told you once!)

Did the mouse laugh in his face when he told it get on the naughty step?

Actually, hang on – are we even allowed to use a naughty step now it’s been discovered they are not being naughty?

What do we do instead? Dr Paul Frankland does not seem to have much to say on that point.

Do will still bother saying no to them if they are about to put a toilet roll down the loo, paint the dining table in porridge or poo in the play-room?

Goldfish have a three-second memory. Perhaps I should base my children’s developmental expectations on those that I see in our pet ‘Fanta’. (Nope, you still ate all the food in one go, even though I told you not to! No more for three days Fanta.)

I’d like to ask Dr Frankland why my children’s ‘infantile-amnesia’ does not seem to affect their ability to remember where I left the strawberry laces, or how to turn the TV on, or if I mentioned five months ago that I MIGHT take them to Build-a-Bear?

Also – my five-and-a-half year old still seems to have some trouble remembering I said no. Or that I told her to put her shoes on. Or to pick up her lunch box. Or not get the pens out when Thing-two is around. Or to turn the TV off and come to the dining table. Or to wipe her bum and wash her hands.

Should I be worried?