MAD SCIENTISTS Loving Mother brought

MAD SCIENTISTS

Loving Mother brought Tiny Girl to the NYU Infant Action Center yesterday to take part in an experiment known as "Infant-Mother Negotiation of Motor Risk." Unfortunately, Tiny refused to participate, although she did provide some startling results for the lab's related study of Cheerio eating. As it's been reported to FD, after several attempts to get Tiny to walk up the lab's ramp without Loving Mother holding her hand, or at least to stop screaming, the experiment was called off. The lab staff then took Tiny's picture, stamped it "Do Not Admit," and hung it in the lobby guard's booth.

Fortunately, FD had recently reported on the lab for the New York SUN, and had seen the preliminary results of this study. A toddler is asked to repeatedly go up and down a ramp as her mother sits off to the side encouraging her - or discouraging her - from walking. Assistants adjust the ramp's angle throughout the experiment. When the ramp is obviously safe, the toddler will pay no attention to her mother telling her to stop. When the ramp is obviously too dangerous to climb, the toddler will ignore her mother telling her to go. Only when it's difficult for the toddler to tell if the ramp is safe will she pay attention to her mother's commands. The good news: Even toddlers do a pretty good job figuring out for themselves what's safe and what isn't. The bad news: Even at 18 months, they're prepared to discard their parents' advice if they don't like it. But we knew that already. ("Small Fellow, I really think you should go to the potty now . . . No, it looks like you have to go right now . . . You should listen to me!")

June 25, 2004 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS

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