There is a scientific reason why you call your kids the wrong name.

It’s not that we don’t love our children, it’s just that we don’t know who they are. Mum-brain is to blame for plenty of our less-than-perfect parenting moments but now science has come to our rescue to explain why we sometimes call our kids by their sibling’s name.

Or their cousin’s name. Or the dog’s name.

It’s a “cognitive error” that occurs in the brain and it is not our fault at all.

Damn you cognitive part of the brain for making my kids think that I don’t love them!

Now who is called what? Image: STX Entertainment

It is common to call someone by the wrong name, particularly if that incorrect name belongs to another member of your social group or "tribe", as in the other kids in your family, and it has nothing to do with physical similarities according to research by Duke University, published in the journal of Memory & Cognition.

That's why when you misname your child you'll often run through all the names of all the other kids in your family before either getting it right (by sheer chance) or giving up and saying, "You know who I mean".


That means that time I called my son Philip, 12, by the name of our dog Sadie, it was a major compliment - to Sadie - because it showed that I really do consider her to be a part of our family.

Who is your secret favourite child? Not that we're saying you even have a favourite. Article continues after this video.

Philip is not dog-like at all. However being 12 he reserved the right to be offended and use it against me for the rest of the night. Tellingly, it's not as common to call your child by the name of the cat, cats being hostile and lacking-in-affection and all. At least that's the case with my cat.

Although once again science comes to the rescue of one of my family relationships by explaining that it's not because my cat hates me - that I call the kids the dog's name instead of hers - but instead it's because dogs are so responsive to their names.

"Perhaps because of that, the dog's name seems to become more integrated with people's conceptions of their families,"Samantha Deffler, a PhD student at Duke University and the lead author on the study said.

It happens in friendship groups too and other close groups of people. It's also common to confuse similar names in social groups such as Michael and Mitchell.

Don't blame ageing either. It's not an old person thing.

So my son can take his Alzheimers joke back.

Cognitive Failure. #mummylovesyou