If you’re the parent of a toddler, you’re probably accustomed to being assaulted, screamed at, pooped on, and held hostage for days without any solid sleep. It’s likely you’ve also thought, on more than one occasion, that your kid hates you and is just trying to kill you.

Fortunately, research indicates that’s not the case. There is a perfectly logical and evolutionary explanation why your 2-year-old jumped off the back of the couch last night and drove her knees into your neck.

A study conducted by scientists at Barnard College has determined that the unrelenting torture parents endure at the hands of their three-foot-tall spawn is actually a good thing. It turns out toddlers are hard-wired to prepare their parents for the zombie apocalypse.

Through years of social behavior research, scientists at Barnard have confirmed that although toddlers seem to lose their cool over absolutely nothing, these so-called “tantrums” are actually highly calculated misbehavior. Over the course of 15 years, scientists studied over 200,000 toddlers, using a toddler translator to understand their ostensibly incoherent babbling. What these scientists uncovered through careful observation was astounding: children were training their parents.

Below are some of the most common misbehaviors (also known as drills) scientists have identified, used by toddlers to prepare their parents for the zombie apocalypse.

Refusing to Go to Sleep

When small children stay up all night, many parents believe they’re just utilizing an unlimited reserve of hyperactive energy. The truth is, when toddlers refuse to either go to bed, or stay in bed, they’re actually running a common military drill to train their parents’ bodies to require less than four hours of sleep a night to function properly. Toddlers know that when the government screws something major up, ultimately causing the zombie apocalypse, sleeping comfortably – and for long periods of time – will not be possible.

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Eating All Their Parents’ Food

In the event of a zombie apocalypse, food rations will be scarce. By devouring their parents’ food before each of them have had enough to satiate their hunger, toddlers train their parents’ bodies to require a lower caloric intake and store more fat for energy later. They also teach their parents to be more secretive and alert when eating, an important wartime skill.

Plotting Sneak Attacks in the Bathroom

Children understand that humans, like dogs, are most vulnerable when they’re on the toilet. By turning out the lights and throwing things at their parents, toddlers are simulating the exact type of situation many people will face during a doomsday scenario. Toddlers know that once they’ve practiced the drill hundreds of times, their legal guardians will be prepared to respond involuntarily.

Committing Dangerous Acts in Front of Their Parents

Parents are hardwired to worry about their children getting hurt. They are also hardwired to react quickly when children do dangerous things, like jump off of couches, chairs, beds, dressers, or any other scalable objects. This type of drill prepares adult reflexes for intense situations where things may move extremely quickly.

Breaking Electronics

Children are often the culprit behind broken electronics – everything from phones to computers. If it transmits a signal, a toddler will probably break if given the chance.

But why? Are toddler’s jerks?

“No,” says Dr. Allen Phillipe, one of many scientists involved in the study. “Children are simply showing their parents what a post-apocalyptic world will be like. Children are incredibly smart, and they know that in a dire scenario on Earth, parents will only be able to rely on their voices to communicate, not a network of electronic devices. Toddlers repeatedly attempt to show their parents that it won’t be as easy as logging on to Facebook to find other survivors.”

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Dr. Phillipe says this is one area where toddlers have ultimately failed to break through, since parents often replace broken electronic device within a matter of hours. He says that toddlers are not typically willing to give up, despite their parents’ inability to go very long without electronics.

Executing Random Karate Moves

Although being kicked in the face, back, or neck seems like an outrageous behavior to tolerate, children have their parents’ best interests in mind. If zombies were to attack, they would likely do so from all angles, demonstrating the importance of learning to block attacks at any time.

Destroying the House

When children destroy everything in their own home, parents often attribute it to rotten, destructive moods, either from lack of food or sleep. What scientists discovered, however, is that when toddlers wreck their home space, they do so to keep their parents agile, capable of navigating dangerous debris left in the wake of an apocalypse.

So parents, the next time your toddler acts like a wild animal, just remember: they’re only trying to help you. Scientists advise looking at it this way: instead of envying the parents with the “always-calm tot,” picture them being the first ones to be eaten.

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