Do you mix up your children’s names? Here’s why

A new scientific study says it's actually to do with how our brain stores memories


Here at MFM, we have to say we mix our kids names up all the time.


We really don’t mean to. And it’s not ideal – especially if we’re in the middle of a telling off!

And while sometimes our children find it funny to be called by their sibling’s name – cued huge rolled eyes at Mum – we know that sometimes they find annoying or just plain hurtful. And, obviously, that does make us feel bad.

But now at least we know it’s not our fault. And we’ve got science on our side to prove it.

It turns out that muddling up your children’s names has got nothing at all to do with not being able to remember which child is which. According to an article published in the journal Memory & Cognitionbased on 5 studies and a survey of 1700 people, it’s actually to do with *where* in your brain you remember which one’s which.

The scientists who wrote the article suggest that we store our loved ones’ names altogether in the same ‘memory folder’, and that, as we go to say one name, we’re essentially flicking through that folder to find the right one.

“It’s a normal cognitive glitch,” says Samantha Deffler, one of the study authors. 

“As you are preparing to produce the utterance, you’re activating not just their name, but competing names,” cognitive scientist Neil Mulligan told NPR.

This also explains why we sometimes mix up the names of husbands, partners, parents and siblings, too. Apparently, even the family dog’s name can get into the mix.

So don’t feel too bad if you end up calling your child Spot or Fluffy, either ?

Have your say

Do you mix up your children’s (or partner’s) names often? And have you ever done it at the completely wrong time? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

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