Toddlers: empathetic psychopaths?

Do toddlers meet the criteria for psychopathy? Let’s examine the facts. While not officially recognized as being a true disorder, psychopathy is frequently described by three characteristics.

  • Boldness. Low fear, high tolerance for danger, high self-confidence and social assertiveness.
  • Disinhibition. Poor impulse control, problems with planning and foresight, lacking urge control, and demand for immediate gratification.
  • Meanness. Lacking empathy, defiance of authority.

And now, let’s examine my toddlers.

  • Boldness. Zero regard for personal safety, boundless self-confidence, no fear of strangers.
  • Disinhibition. Complete lack of impulse control, minimal planning and foresight, lacking urge control, and demand for immediate gratification.
  • Meanness. Usually after-the-fact empathy, disregard and defiance of authority.

That said, they’re also extremely empathetic. Madeline saw a blemish on my forehead and gently held my face and said “you got an ouchie, Mom? I can make it better” and kissed me. Emmett sees Madeline crying, and pats her on the back and tells her “it’s ok, Madela, a hug?”

So I guess what I’m saying here is that if you have toddlers, I’m sorry. But I’ve been told that those beautiful moments of tenderness show who they really are inside. Even if they follow it up by slapping someone in the face.

Oh, and they’re almost painfully funny. Like, all the time. And they’re cute, too. That helps.

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