If your toddler seems to be ignoring everything you tell them to do, take heart: They’re just squirreling that advice away for later, researchers tell LiveScience. “The good news is what we’re saying to our kids doesn’t go in one ear and out the other, like people might have thought,” said one. “It also doesn’t get put into action.”
Cognitive-development researchers had believed toddlers’ minds worked much like those of adults. Researchers discovered that wasn’t the case by testing 3-year-olds and 8-year-olds with a simple pattern-recognition game, and recording their eye movements. The 8-year-olds could easily predict the patterns, but the 3-year-olds exerted effort after the fact, indicating that they were recalling instructions only after they were relevant.