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 The reason a mother gives in to a crying baby

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PostSubject: The reason a mother gives in to a crying baby   Wed Mar 11, 2009 5:52 pm

The reason a mother gives in to a crying baby

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 8:28 AM on 11th March 2009

A mother who gives in to her child's temper tantrum is only following the rules of evolution, according to scientists.

Every parent is familiar with the feelings experienced when a child starts crying hysterically --and how the presence of scowling, disapproving strangers often leads them to give in to their demands.

Now similar behaviour has been identified among our primate cousins after a study of wild rhesus monkeys showed the threat of violence from onlookers often leads mothers to feed their screaming babies.

Mother love: a matter of evolution

Evolutionary anthropologist Dr Stuart Semple and colleagues observed 11 rhesus mothers living on Cayo Santiago, known as 'Monkey Island', off the coast of Peru for four months.

They found access to the nipple was given to newborns during 81.8 per cent of crying bouts when at least one aggressive bystander was present - more than twice as many times as when no other monkey was within two metres (39.4 per cent).

When low-risk onlookers were around, feeding occurred during 53.5 per cent of crying outbursts, according to the findings published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal.

Dr Semple, of Roehampton University, South-West London, said: 'Human studies have shown parents are much more likely to give in to a child's temper tantrum when it is in public rather than private.

'Children's temper tantrums seem to be an evolutionary behaviour handed down from our ancestors with a constant conflict going on between mothers and their infants who are always looking for more.

'These results indicate the outcome of infant and mother communication in this species is affected by the presence and nature of bystanders and this effect may be linked to potential or actual aggression from these individuals.'

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