When a 12-year-old’s mother asks him “How many times do I have to tell you to stop?” he will understand that the answer, if any is required, had better not include a number.
But that insight requires a sophisticated understanding of ironic language that develops long after fluent speech. At what age do children begin to sense the meaning of such a question, and to what degree can they respond appropriately to other kinds of irony?
In laboratory research on the subject, children demonstrate almost no comprehension of ironic speech before they are 6 years old, and little before they are 10 or 11. When asked, younger children generally interpret rhetorical questions as literal, deliberate exaggeration as a mistake and sarcasm as a lie.
Child Protective Services investigated more than three million cases of suspected child abuse in 2007, but a new study suggests that the investigations did little or nothing to improve the lives of those children.
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By now you've spent half of your week learning about the cookie test and delay of gratification...but if you're like me, you are wondering what the kids are doing while they're trying their hardest to avoid eating the cookie*.
Lucky for you, I have this video in my arsenal. And the results are pretty hilarious.
Enjoy "The Marshmallow Test."
*Also, if you're like me, you've gone out and bought** some cookies.
**What? Don't look at me like that. I waited until TUESDAY to buy cookies. If that's not delay of gratification, I don't know what is.