Believe It Or Not

Everybody has their own views of the typical one-year-old. But here are 10 common myths that should be debunked, says DR RICHARD C. WOOLFSON.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Chances are, you have heard many so-called “facts” about a typical one-year-old, such as his behaviour, how to manage him and how he develops.

Yet many of these simply don’t have any basis in reality. Here are 10 common myths about toddlers this age.

THE MYTH You can tell how clever he is going to be at school by the way he plays with toys.

THE TRUTH Children’s thinking skills grow at different rates, and much depends on the stimulation they receive during the preschool years. By all means, delight in everything he does, but remember there is a long way to go before he starts school.

THE MYTH Listening to Mozart’s music will make your one-year-old intelligent.

THE TRUTH There is no reason why your toddler shouldn’t listen to classical music, especially if he enjoys it. However, there is no evidence that listening to Mozart will significantly boost his brain power in any way. 

THE MYTH If he didn’t form an attachment with you immediately, it’s too late to bond.

THE TRUTH While some parents say that they formed an instant attachment to their baby at birth, most parents find that it takes longer. Don’t be surprised if it happens only when he is two or three years old.

THE MYTH You shouldn’t leave him to cry because he will become emotionally damaged.

THE TRUTH A toddler who is left crying for hours and hours on a regular basis can feel abandoned and rejected. But that won’t happen if you decide to let him cry himself to sleep just for one evening because he has been challenging at bedtimes.

THE MYTH He’s too young to attend day care.

THE TRUTH Kids can benefit from childcare at any age, even those below one year old. It can be very helpful for your toddler, as long as it is safe, staffed by trained, qualified and experienced carers, and provides a very positive programme for the kids who go there.

THE MYTH Handedness (preference for using the left or right) has already been fixed.

THE TRUTH Although your one-year-old may have already started to show a preference for using one hand rather than the other, this can still change. Handedness doesn’t become fixed until around the age of three or four years, sometimes even later.

THE MYTH If you don’t give him a little brother or sister soon, he’ll become spoilt and selfish.

THE TRUTH There are many children without siblings who grow up to be caring, sociable individuals and who are able to work in teams with others. Your one-year-old will only become a brat if you spoil him, or if you let others do so.

THE MYTH He gets more emotionally from his mother than his father.

THE TRUTH Both Mum and Dad play an important part. One parent is not better than the other because each parent makes their own distinctive impact on their child’s psychological well-being.

THE MYTH A girl needs a female role model and a boy needs a male role model.

THE TRUTH Many children in one-parent families don’t have a same-gender adult role model. Yet there is no evidence that this puts them at a psychologically disadvantage. What matters is that they have a good adult-role model – the gender is not significant.

THE MYTH “Tough love” at this age can stop discipline problems later on.

THE TRUTH Tough love, based on firm management and strong control over child behaviour, typically relies more on punishment for breaking rules than on rewards for following rules. There is no guarantee that this type of discipline is any more effective than any other. 

Children’s thinking skills grow at different rates, and much depends on the stimulation they receive during the preschool years.