You know that losing your temper is a useless reaction when it comes to babies, but dealing with tiny people who — let’s face it — are pretty much bad at doing everything can make any sane, sleep-deprived person eventually snap. When that happens, according to 2 new studies, your baby is paying a lot more attention than you might have realized.
The research, conducted at University Of Washington’s Institute For Learning And Brain Sciences, first looked at 270 15-month-old infants. They sat with their parents while watching an “experimenter” playing with a toy and an “emoter” reacting to it. When the babies were then given a chance to play, those who observed angry emoters were less likely to duplicate their actions or attempt to play with the toy (because, obviously, Mr. Angry Pants ruined it with rage). Then, researchers introduced a new, extra appealing toy with blinking bells and binging buzzers. But the babies still gave anger-tinged toys the Heisman, refusing it 23-percent more often than the kids who didn’t see any adults Hulk out over it.
While it’s depressing to realize your anger could have such an explicit impact on your kid, the researchers see it as a good thing. Being able to classify adults as angry is an adaptive response in their brains that helps keep them safe, which is your number one goal as a parent anyway. So, if you let the occasional F-bomb slip, don’t be too hard on yourself — you’re actually teaching your kid some skills that will be useful later in life. Like how to drop an F-bomb.