Having a grandchild for the first time, I have learnt a great deal about children, their awareness and their habits. Researchers say that when very young children have just begun learning how to express themselves, toddlers already care about what others think of them. It seems children under two have the same instincts as adults to make people like them, a study has found.
Psychologists presented 144 children aged 14-24 months with a robot which lit up and moved when buttons on remote controls were pressed. In one experiment, an adult said: ‘Wow!’ after using one remote control to move the robot, while saying ‘Uh-Oh” when using a second remote. When being watched by an adult, the toddlers were around twice as likely to use the remote that the grown-ups had preferred. A second test found children operated the robot 7.7 times on average in front of a woman who liked the toy, but only 5.7 times in front of one who did not.
Commenting on the report, published in the journal Developmental Psychology Studies, author Sara Botto, of Emory University in the USA, said: ‘We’ve shown that by the age of 24 months children are not only aware that people may be evaluating them, but that they will alter their behavior to seek a positive response.’
How very true. My granddaughter, who will be 24 months old in December, is unbelievably aware of what other people do, and learns so fast how to emulate their actions, I often wonder if the new generation is more endowed than we’ve ever been at that age.