Here’s the Scientific Reason Why Parents Mix Up Their Kids’ Names
Categories: Parenting

Here’s the Scientific Reason Why Parents Mix Up Their Kids’ Names

Emma! Rose! Jason! Um, Matthew? You know which one of your kiddo’s attention you need. But, you can’t seem to get the right name out. Somewhere in between the baby’s name, your toddler’s, or the dog’s, you might actually get the one you wanted to say. Hey, don’t stress. We all mix up our kids’ names. Seriously. Recent research, published in the journal Memory & Cognition, actually says so!

After reviewing five studies, which included more than 1,700 participants, researchers from Duke University and Aarhus University (in Denmark) found that mixing up names of familiar people is a common occurrence, and it’s not because the person doing the misnaming is losing their memory or that the misnamed people look too similar. Instead, it has to do with how we categorize names in our minds. For example, we tend to mentally group our friends together and our family members together. So when you’re trying to call out for one of your kids, your brain will go through your “names of people in my family” file and will pick a name in the family that may or may not be the correct one. If your kids have similar sounding names, however, that can increase the likelihood of mixing them up.

The researchers also tried to assess the participants’ moods as they were misnaming people. But they didn’t get the results that they expected. The proportion of misnamings that happened when the participants were in some sort of negative mood was equal to or less than the number of participants who didn’t report being angry, tired, or otherwise frustrated. So, that doesn’t mean your, “Jon! Jenni! Jarrod!” moments aren’t happening because the baby was up every half hour, your toddler cried for her sippy cup in those precious few moments that her little sis slept, or you’re irked at your significant other. It just means that this area is in need of further study.

One surprising thing that was revealed: People didn’t just mix up their human family members’ names; they also added in their pets’ names… but this only applied to dogs (sorry, cat-lovers). It may be that people verbally communicate with their dogs more than their cats or that despite cats/hamsters/fish still being part of the family, dogs are considered more “human-like.”

So the next time you mix up your children’s names, or your mom mixes up yours, don’t take it personally — blame it on science!

How often do you mix up your kids’ names? Share your answer and tweet us @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)