Here at Dads To Be, one of the lighthearted questions I am often asked is why their child is so obsessed with trains and busses… in fact, anything big with wheels so it seems. So I thought heck, why not finally answer these questions and write a post on the question!
They are big, they are noisy and to be frank with you, as adults, many of us do not look twice at them and that fact that our little-uns are Choo-Choo over trains and buses is, at least to me, a strange obsession.
Being the geek I am, I decided to look into this thinking my own mini-me was fast turning into the worlds biggest anorak! Was it something that society said a child has to like or is it something more?
I think all of us can recall getting excited over seeing a train, riding a bus and getting highly involved with toys with wheels! I used to love playing with my Thomas the Tank Engines (yes, I still have the same toys today only not played with by myself). With recalling the obsession I had, I was trying to recall if I was encouraged to like them or not. Was it a case of I was just bought these presents as that is what society thought a little boy should have? Turns out, this may not be the case and this is where it gets interesting!
It seems scientists carry out the oddest of experiments, only the other day I learned a team of scientists had trained a spider to jump on command! What the hell?! Well, one study this crazy bunch carried out was with a group of baby monkeys back in 2014 where, they were given a collection of toys to play with and it turns out that the female baby monkeys went to the dolls and the boys went to the cars and balls. In fact, more experiments have been carried out to reproduce the results and guess what, they were reproduced. So is it our biology that makes (mainly) boys obsessed? Is it gender?
For you eagle-eyed readers, you may have noticed I have only just mentioned the fact boys seem to be obsessed more so than girls. I have read through so many websites, so many studies and my brain is about to explode but I am fully aware, it is not just us lads who are obsessed, you ladies are also and it is all down to one thing, which is clearly not gender. Testosterone!
It seems the more testosterone you have, the more obsessed you will be and I for one am glad I will not need to transport my little-un to every train station under the sun with a pocketbook to record train numbers (not that there is anything wrong with it, it just does not interest me).
So there, that is the reason… but I was not satisfied with that as an answer… I thought to myself, is there a benefit to this obsession, should we encourage it or should we ignore it? Well, at least for the early years, we need to encourage it, even with you girlies out there!
As a young brain, we do not really comprehend the space around us, distance and direction. Obsessing over balls, wheels and large vehicles like trains, helps us understand the world not as a 2D landscape, but as a 3D one and with this understanding, it helps with our own spatial awareness. This is what can help us navigate walking up stairs, hand to eye coordination and so much more we take for granted… in days gone, it helped us with forming hunting skills and the like.
So wow, this journey has gone on a line I did not expect to be taken and ended up with a simple fact, we should all play with toy trains and buses, be encouraged to get excited about the real things as these can help form all-important STEM skills! It really does set us on the right “track”in life!
So what do you make of the research?