Every parent wonders if their baby’s behavior is typical. Most of us turn to fellow parent friends, the pediatrician or even the Internet for reassurance, but some psychologists claim a simple red ball may be the secret to knowing if you’re raising a future psychopath.
Even if the nurses at the hospital are very generous with binkies and blankets, babies don’t come home with an owner’s manual. Everyone has their own unique personality, and as a new parent, it can be difficult to know whether your child’s behavior is concerning or simply quirky.
Psychologists at King’s College in London are trying to remove some of the guesswork for worried new parents with a simple test that uses a red ball to determine if a baby is prone to antisocial behavior. Researchers took 213 5-week-old infants and showed them both a red ball and human faces to see which they preferred to interact with. When the same children were 2-1/2, the researchers tested them for characteristics and behaviors that are common in people with antisocial disorders.
The study found that infants who were more interested in the red ball than in other people were more likely to meet the markers for antisocial behavior two years later. This is a possible indication that the child may suffer from psychopathy as an adult.
But fear not, parents. There’s no need to root through the toy box in search of a red ball quite yet. Researchers caution that the test might not be completely accurate. While a preference for the red ball may indicate developmental issues, it could also simply mean your child likes the color red. There are lots of things babies do that may make you raise an eyebrow and wonder if you should have named them Dexter but that are actually typical infant behavior. For instance:
1. They refuse to let you wash their hands and face after devouring a plate of pasta with sauce.
2. You often wake in the middle of the night to find them staring back at you over the baby monitor.
3. Their favorite toy is a Wednesday Addams doll.
4. You know you have a great voice, but your baby seems to enjoy that song about a falling cradle a little too much.
5. There are times when you swear they’re interacting with someone or something that’s invisible.
6. You’re up with them at all hours — they never seem to sleep.
7. They burst into giggles every time you trip over one of their toys.
8. They can’t be contained — every attempt you make to babyproof is conquered immediately.
9. They didn’t shed a single tear when meeting Santa Claus for the first time.
10. They sometimes make growls, grunts and other noises that don’t quite sound human.
11. Your baby is the family staring contest champion.
12. They know how to get what they want — Grandma’s wrapped around their teeny, tiny finger.
13. Throwing down their sippy cup and watching you pick it up is a game that can last an entire afternoon.
14. Winnie-the-Pooh scares them more than an actual bear.
15. They have 107 toys, but nothing is more fun than an empty cardboard box.
16. When they come in for a hug, it’s more like a full-body tackle.
17. They keep pulling Stephen King novels off your bookshelf and asking you to read them aloud.
18. They say “goodbye” instead of “good night.”