Things Only Moms Notice About Their Kids

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Motherhood is a full-time job, as any mother will tell you. From day one, it's up to moms to make sure that their mini-me is fed, dressed, rested, socialized, and soothed — and so much more. For every skinned knee and developmental milestone, for every giggle and messy face, moms are there, carefully ushering their little ones through the world. 

That means there's a lot of time for mamas to get to know their children in painstaking detail, from their varying moods and reactions, to their intense likes and dislikes. Sometimes this maternal knowledge can come off as a sort of super power, given that moms can predict, sense, and intuit things about their tots that other folks just don't notice. But it's not sorcery — it's just what moms do!

So what are the things only moms notice about their kids that others might not? We talked to both professional experts and mamas in the trenches to find out.

Moms know when development isn't normal

Childhood is, of course, a critically important time when it comes to growth and development. That's when children start to mature in a host of ways, from practicing basic hygiene to learning their ABCs. 

So if something abnormal is going on with development, moms will be the first to see it — sometimes before the experts. Dr. Fran Walfish, a family and relationship psychotherapist in Beverly Hills, and author of The Self-Aware Parent, told The List, "I have often said that 'Mother knows best' when frequently moms intuitively sense that something is developmentally wrong with their child before the experts do." So if you know in your gut something isn't right, don't be afraid to say something to your doctor.

Walfish has seen firsthand when this is the case, too. "I have even had mothers bring their delayed child to my psychotherapy office and defy their child's preschool teacher and pediatrician with certainty that something is terribly wrong," she continued. "Usually and sadly, the mom is right." So trust yourself if you suspect something, and don't be shy about sharing it.

Moms sense their child's creative potential

If your child is a budding Pablo Picasso or a future Frida Kahlo, chances are you noticed it before anyone else, even at its most rudimentary stage. That's what Heidi McBain, a Texas-based Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, told The List. "Moms are often the ones day in and day out that notice their child/ren's creativity," she shared. 

McBain speaks from experience on the topic, as she's also a parent. Notably, she noticed very early on that her daughter had a strong creative instinct. "When she was two, I found that she had decorated our two Labrador retrievers with band-aids," she continued. "Now that she's 13, I often find her in the kitchen creating a new and interesting food concoction." 

So even though what McBain witnessed early on could be interpreted by some as simple child's play, she knows it was an indicator of her daughter's developing creative impulse. So hang onto those hand turkeys, mamas!

Moms are the first to get their kid's sense of humor

Just as moms can predict when their youngin' is a future artist, they're often first to grasp their child's burgeoning sense of humor as well. According to McBain, "Moms are often the ones to first notice their child/ren's sense of humor." So if you've been laughing a lot at your little one's antics, that could be an indicator that they'll be the ones cracking everyone up at the water cooler in the future.

This was something that McBain noticed in her son, who was prone to antics from the get-go. "When he was three, I found him dancing around with his potty training seat on his head just being silly," she continued. "Now that he's 9, he still has me laughing at his daily, often messy antics, such as putting soap on his face to look like a Santa beard." If you can relate, rejoice! You might have a future Ellen DeGeneres on your hands.

Moms can tell when their child is really just tired

All moms know that being a mom comes with special super powers. So if you've ever been sure that your kid is all tuckered out — no matter what everyone else says — you're probably right. Maria Lianos-Carbone, a mother of two and the author of Oh Baby! A Mom's Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year told The List, "Moms definitely can sense when a child is overtired and cranky, and about to have a tantrum." And it's not just because they're being cranky or difficult — that's not the whole story. 

Lianos-Carbone has seen it in action with her kid. "I've been in situations at family gatherings where I could see my child was getting a little out of control," she continued. And while her family members assumed that he was just hyper or had eaten too much sugar, she knew what was really up. "I know he was overstimulated and needed some quiet time, so it was our time to leave."

Moms always detect when something's wrong

Do you know if your wee one is having a problem at school before they tell you about it? Do you just know when your child has had a fight with their best friend, before they've said a word? If so, you're not alone — and you can chalk it up to those psychic mom skills. As Lianos-Carbone told The List, "Mom can also tell if a child is not acting him/herself, and if something is upsetting them." You just have to know what to look for.

The clues can be super subtle, too, even to the most discerning mama. But they're there. "Even a slight change in behavior is enough for mom's radar to go up, and sense something is wrong," Lianos-Carbone continued. "Even a little shift in his voice tone, or a look in his eyes can send signals that we need to address an issue." So if it feels like something is off, don't be afraid to bust out the mom-probe.

Moms are first to know when their kid is getting sick

Sometimes it can be impossible to predict when your little one is going to get sick — indeed the vomit train can sometimes pull into the station out of the blue. But other times, maternal instinct can kick in, giving moms a little bit of time to prepare for the inevitable illness du jour.

That's been the case for Lianos-Carbone, who's been able to predict an impending bout of the crud before. "I knew something was stirring with my son, even though he still had energy and was playing normally," she told The List. "I could see there was a slight twinkle in his eye; my instinct was telling me he was going to be sick." That was despite the fact that there were no symptoms of illness at all!

So was she right about her prediction? "Well what do you know, the next day he developed a fever," she shared. Because, of course he did.

Moms also know when their kids are faking sick

Just as moms can tell when their mini-me is coming down with something, they also know when they are faking it. Shauna Stewart Douglas, a mom who's also the founder and CEO of Mommble, an online motherhood community, told The List, "Knowing when your kids are faking sick takes a bit of practice; there are a lot of tummy aches to navigate!" And you don't want to miss the real ones, for sure.

In Douglas' experience, her kids don't lie about being sick out of the blue, or just for kicks. "Faking an illness often comes on the heels of something else going on for them, often around feeling uncomfortable or nervous, and ends up being a perfect segue to talk about what is going on," she continued. "Usually once they've had a chance to talk about things they aren't 'sick' anymore!" So it can be used as a tool to connect, delve deeper, and get a positive outcome in the end. Nice job, mama.

Moms know when their kids are nervous

Kids aren't always forthcoming when they're nervous or worried about something, like the first day of school, the big spring concert, or a big athletic event. But when they are, regardless of how they might try to hide it, moms can usually sense it anyway. As Douglas told The List, "Moms have an almost sixth sense when it comes to their kids, at least I feel like I do sometimes!" And that applies to situations just like this.

So what is it that gives it away? "Kids have practically microscopic 'tells' — other people can think everything is going along just fine, but moms *know* something is not quite right," Douglas continued. "If my kids are feeling nervous about something, suddenly they don't want to eat their favorite dinner or bedtime turns into an exercise in futility!" There's always something that gives it away, even if it's seemingly unrelated to the thing that they're nervous about.

Moms know when to remove their kids from a situation

Part of being a mom is taking your kid out in the world, whether that's to a friend's house, out running errands, or on special trips. But no matter where you are with the wee one, moms can tell when it's time to get home. Douglas told The List all about it. "Little facial expressions, their breathing, hanging back (or the complete opposite, getting a bit too amped up)... let us know if a situation is going to be too much and it would be better if we made our exit," she shared.  

Douglas also recalled a specific time when her spidey sense was on point. "My daughter was about 2 years old. [We were] out with family camping and she was jumping and marching around well past her bedtime." She continued, "I made a comment about how things were about to go south very quickly and my cousin said, 'Really? She looks like she is having so much fun!'" Lo and behold, just two minutes later, her daughter started making a fuss.

Moms know when their child is about to get angry

Just as moms know when it's time to bug out of a situation, they often can sense when their child is getting angry before anyone else can, too. Joelle Wisler, a mom and a staff writer at Scary Mommy, shared some of her insights on this in an article on the site. "I can predict a meltdown just from the set of my kid's chin minutes before it's going to happen," she wrote. Pretty impressive skills!

Wisler admits that while she can sense when trouble's brewing, she's not always 100 percent sure what the trouble might be or what will help. "I'm not as good at predicting what exactly is going to do the job, so I try to tread lightly," she continued. "This is not the time for teasing or arguing or proving a point. It's taken me almost 10 years, but I'm figuring some stuff out." So when you sense a hurricane on the horizon, approach with caution.

Moms detect potential dangers to their kids

Before you have kids, the world may seem like a perfectly normal place. But after you become a parent, you might notice that you've suddenly become hyper aware of every potential peril lurking around the corner. That too, is a mom thing. "I think I'm hardwired somehow to see the danger in every situation. This is annoying for my kids, I'm sure," Wisler penned in an article on Scary Mommy. So you're not alone in those nagging, worrisome concerns, moms!  

And while it's good for moms to be sensitive to the potential harm around them, Wisler tries not to freak out all of the time. "Most of the time I can quell my fears and just let them do their thing, but every once in a while I just have to walk away from the 'let's see how far dad can throw the kids' situation," she continued. How relatable is that?