Toddlers are Psychopaths

Recently I came across a checklist called the “Hare Psychopathy Checklist” which is a diagnostic tool used to rate a person’s psychopathic or antisocial tendencies.There are several items on the checklist that are supposedly indicators of a person being a psychopath. Looking through the list, I was struck with how many of the indicators are also present in toddlers. See for yourself:


1. Glib and Superficial Charm

The definition of “glib” is “insincere and shallow”. Toddlers are most definitely insincere and shallow. They are masterminds at getting what they want by oozing the charm. “Mommy, you wook pwetty today” is just a sneaky way to ensure that we will say yes when they ask for a package of fruit snacks 15 minutes before dinner.


2. Grandiose (Exaggeratedly High) Estimation of Self

Recently on Jimmy Fallon, Reese Witherspoon imitated her son as a picky eater/ Serbian tyrant and it was hysterical. “NO! I NO LIKE IT!” I don’t know if I was laughing because it was a funny impersonation or because it was terrifyingly true. Toddlers are the kings of their worlds; the center of their universes. They just assume we all think they are as well.


3. Need for Stimulation

Have you ever walked into a Chuck E. Cheese? Talk about stimulation. Most kids love those places, and most adults find them loud and overwhelming. Same with the toys that make loud, obnoxious noises that adults hate but toddlers love? Toddlers need stimulation. Most adults just need a nap.   


4. Parasitic Lifestyle

A parasitic lifestyle is defined as “an intentional, manipulative, selfish, and exploitative financial dependence on others as reflected in a lack of motivation, low self-discipline, and inability to begin or complete responsibilities”.

Wow, does this describe toddlers or what? I mean, I tried hard to get my kids to earn their keep when they were toddlers, but no, they were too busy mooching off me and their father. There was most definitely a glaring lack of  motivation to become financially independent. Manipulative little parasites.  


5. Lack of Remorse or Guilt

When my son was two and potty training, my husband was helping him pull up his pants after he used the toilet and he jumped up and hit my husband in the mouth with his hard head. He knocked the poor man’s front tooth out! Most sane people would be horrified, overcome with guilt, and profusely apologize. Not the toddler. He laughed his fool head off and thought daddy looking like a hockey player was the most hysterical thing he’d ever seen.


6. Poor Behavioral Controls



7. Failure to Accept Responsibility for Own Actions

Have you ever tried to get a toddler to apologize? A mumbled “sorry” complete with a furrowed brow and chubby little crossed arms doesn’t quite exude heartfelt acceptance of wrongdoing does it?


8. Lack of Realistic Long Term Goals

I don’t know about your toddlers, but mine had goals of becoming flying superheroes and dragons. My daughter wanted to be a ballerina ninja princess. Their long term goals included living in candy castles with chocolate milk moats. Not exactly realistic.

So what do we conclude from the fact that toddlers rate very highly on this checklist? Does this mean that toddlers are psychopaths? Or could it mean that psychopathic people never developed past toddlerhood? I think there is a strong argument for both theories.