If conversations with your toddler make you feel more like you're talking to yourself, don't take it personally. You'll be relieved to know there is a logical explanation behind the question why does my toddler zone out. And you can take comfort in the fact that this is a very normal occurrence.
Just like your body, your attention span develops over time. On average, a toddler can only focus on something for two to five minutes, according to Parents. Not only can this cause them to quickly loose interest in a task, but it's also why they go into their own zone. But there's one more piece that plays a role in kids spacing out, and it has to do with short-term memory.
As Psychology Today pointed out, the human brain holds a limited amount of information in the short-term memory at one time. As information is coming in, the brain is sorting it into what's called, "chunks," and there's only room for four chunks at a time. This means when you are speaking to your toddler, their brain can only make sense of about two sentences at a time. Add to this their limited attention span, and you'll see why it's so easy for these little ones to tune you out.
If you take the science behind this phenomenon and stir in some everyday factors, you'll see why it's not unusual to experience these seven reasons your toddler is zoning out.
1. You're Talking Too Much
Information overload is real, especially when you're under six years old. When you talk for too long, your child is unable to process all of the messages, according to Psychology Today. So instead of unloading a ton of information at once, break it into smaller pieces and serve it to them two sentences at a time.
2. There Are Too Many Distractions
Too much stimuli can make the brain confused, and even an adult is bound to become distracted. As Parents pointed out, young children have not learned how to ignore distractions, since that's a skill that comes with age. So if there is too much going on, your toddler may start to zone out.
3. They're Bored
Sometimes it's easy to forget that kids are smaller versions of adults, and the factors that influence kid choices aren't that different from adults. Just like we all have bad days and get cranky — if something isn't interesting, you go into the zone. Trying to stay focused on things that seem boring is hard for anyone, especially toddlers whose brains are still developing.
4. The Information Is Too Complicated
That far off look in your toddler's eyes may be due to the complexity of the information they're receiving. As Dr. Sear's website pointed out, sometimes simple is best, so keeping information simple helps kid process what you're saying.
5. The Directions Are Too Stern
Putting a positive spin on things can help toddlers follow directions. As Dr. Katharine C. Kersey, author of The 101s: A Guide to Positive Discipline, told PBS, "kids who hear 'no' or 'don't' all the time tend to tune those directives out." The more effective route is telling a toddler what to do, versus what not to do.
6. They're "Hungry"
Depending on how they're feeling, kids may be more prone to tune out. Feeling hungry may make it harder for kids to focus, but there could be more behind that "I'm hungry," than you realize. As Kid's Health pointed out, when kids say they're hungry when they are trying to express an emotion they can't put a name to.
7. They're Busy
If you've ever seen a toddler hard at play you know it's difficult to tear them away from what they're doing. It could be that your little one is tuning you out because they are engrossed in the hard work of play, and have zeroed in their focus to that one task.