I knew my daughter's time was running out. She's a challenging 3-year-old in so many ways, but she often gets away with her naughty behavior because she's do damn cute. I think that's the way it is with a lot of young children, which is a vicious cycle of sorts that feeds the terribleness of toddlers, no matter how hard we try to stop it. It's just hard to get too mad at those squishy little cheeks, innocent eyes, and squeaky little voices.
Even when they misbehave in public and parents endure the searing tsk tsk-ing of strangers, the general, overriding reaction is still, awww, aren't they adorable? Because, let's face it, they are. But that's not going to save them forever. Eventually the cuteness comes to an end, and now scientists are telling us exactly when.
In a study highlighted recently by Bonnie Rochman at Time, scientists found that based on changes in their facial features, kids stop being cute at age 4.5.
They say it may be evolutionary in some regards. That the way babies' faces are aligned makes people feel all soft and cuddly toward them -- even if they're not their own -- thereby giving toddlers some level of protection from society (i.e. (normal) people don't want to drop kick them even if they are brats.). As Jenna Pincott pointed out in Psychology Today:
Children's faces lose some of their universal babyish appeal right around the age that they don't need it anymore (to survive) -- early childhood.
It's an interesting, though not surprising finding. That's just about the age that I've always found kids to start being annoying. When my son was young, all of his playmates were just adorable and sweet, but as they grew older, they started growing little personalities -- some of which didn't make me feel warm and cuddly at all. Some of which make me want to turn the lights off and pretend we aren't home when they ring the doorbell. Here I thought I was just growing irritable, when it's their little faces that are making me feel this way.
But it's for their own good (and the sanity of their parents) that cuteness comes to a halt, because without that pass, they have to start taking more accountability for their actions or risk the wrath of society. Seeing a 3-year-old throw themselves on the floor because mommy can't make the sun come out (true story, last week) is met witha slightly more tolerable reaction than a 5-year-old doing so. Since kids don't have cuteness to save them anymore, most of them (hopefully) will stop with tantrums and other over-the-top bratty behavior as they age. Or at least that's the evolutionary theory on which I'm counting.
Do you think your kids became less cute as they exited toddlerhood?
Image via www.photographybyjoelle.com/Flickr