All your hard work isn’t going unnoticed by your little one.

Frantically searching for your keys when you’re already late for work? Breaking a sweat because you can’t get several appliances to work again and your kids haven’t even had breakfast yet? While you may think your baby is completely oblivious to all that’s going on, a new study suggests they’re actually paying attention—and benefitting from seeing your multiple attempts to complete a task.

According to researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, babies around 15-months-old may actually work harder and longer to accomplish a goal if they’ve just watched an adult struggle at doing something before accomplishing it, the Associated Press reports.

“Showing children that hard work works might encourage them to work hard too,” the study authors write.


In the study, published this week in the journal Science, researchers conducted three experiments involving 262 children ages 13 months to 18 months. According to the AP, during the experiments, two groups of children would watch a researcher do a simple task, like remove a rubber frog from a clear plastic container. However, one group would see a researcher struggle and complete a task in 30 seconds, while the other group would see a researcher have an easier time and succeed in just 10 seconds.

Afterward, researchers introduced a felt-covered box to the babies that could play music. Although it had a large red button to press, it wasn’t actually functional. Researchers then encouraged the babies to get the box to play music in order to see how long the littles ones would push the button.

In all three experiments, kids pressed the button more often if they saw the researcher struggle than if they had seen her complete her task easily—23 versus 12 times in one experiment. The AP reports kids were even more persistent if the researcher actively engaged with the child while attempting the tasks, doing things like looking at the babies in the eyes or saying the child’s name.

Previous research has found other benefits of having a working mom. In 2015, a Harvard Business School study found that daughters of working moms are more likely to be employed, be supervisors in their jobs and make more money than women who had stay-at-home moms. On the other hand, men with working moms are more likely to contribute to household chores and spend more time taking care of family members.

Written by Maricar Santos for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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January 18, 2020 — Matcha

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