If you have a toddler, or have ever had a toddler, or have had the pleasure/torture of watching a toddler for a few hours, then you’re probably aware that the little buggers love Elmo almost as much as they love throwing food and running wildly into walls.
Even though his voice might seem grating and he might wind up your nerves, it turns out there is science behind why kids pretty much universally love the little muppet. Curious? Here goes!
First off, he’s red, which is the first color babies can see. None of the other Sesame Street monsters are red, either, so it makes sense that kids are drawn to him just by his looks!
Another reason, according to child and family therapist Shanna Donhauser, is that he displays personality traits that parents have taught their kids are desirable. He’s a good boy, basically, so they’re attracted to him.
Third, that voice that’s like nails on a chalkboard? It turns out it’s very similar to the way children talk – and they love to see themselves as a piece of red floof.
“He speaks like a child does, and asks questions a child might ask,” explains social worker Kaleigh Boysen. “His questions and attempts to understand mimic a young child’s thought process. His voice is also higher pitched, making him sound more childlike and easier for small children to hear.”
Even more than these three things, though, is the way that Elmo loves your children back – he breaks the fourth wall, speaking directly to them as if they’re friends. Toddlers crave attention and Elmo gives it to them in spades.
So the next time your kid sees Elmo and freaks out with glee, don’t roll your eyes. Instead, remember that they adore him because he loves them, because he teaches them how to be the best versions of themselves, and because he’s red.
That last thing he had nothing to do with, but he’s not above taking credit for it. Little floof.
h/t: The Stir – Cafe Mom