Why We Mix Up Our Kids' Names All the Damn Time, According to Science

Mother and daughter laughing and having a good time in the closet
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Do you constantly find yourself mixing up your children's names -- to the point of yelling for someone to do something and later questioning why the wrong kid did it? As real as "mom brain" can be, as it turns out, we aren't losing our sh*t at all -- at least, not about that! A new study reveals mixing up names is very common and isn't a sign of having a horrible memory -- or that you're aging faster than you'd like. Thank goodness!


Samantha Deffler is a cognitive scientist at Rollins College whose mind-boggling study, published in the journal Memory & Cognition, shows that the art of misnaming -- or mixing up the names of familiar individuals -- isn't just a "mom issue," as practically everyone does it. Though, the expert does note that moms are more prone to mixing up names.

(But of course we are!)

More from CafeMom: 10 Signs You're Suffering From 'Mom Brain'

Surveying 1,700 women and men, Samantha discovered 50 percent of those surveyed have been called the wrong name by someone they know, with almost all (95 percent) experiencing a family member's flub. Samantha believes these common "oops" are a result of how our brain categorizes names. Humans have the tendency to use semantic categorization, where we group people by similarities -- like "family" or "friends" or "ladies from yoga class," for example. Though Samantha's research does note that names that sound similar can lead to misnaming, more people seem to struggle to keep names straight when they're a part of a group of a "brain folder" of similar individuals.

This explains so much! I remember getting mad at my mom whenever she confused me with my sister. (We're 10 years apart and don't look that much alike.)

But now I get it.

I am very guilty of mixing up my 3- and 1½-year-olds' names, and I thought it was a sign that I'm losing brain cells ... like my mother, LOL!

Moms already know how frustrating it is to look a child in the face and call said child by a completely different name, but at least we now have science on our side to remind us that we aren't crazy after all.

More from CafeMom: Calling Your Kid by Your Other Kid's Name: What Mom Doesn't Do This?

So the next time your kids get mad at you for calling them by the wrong name -- as if the world is going to end right then and there -- just tell them it's because you love them all so much and your brain categorizes everyone together.


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