Why You Should Let Your Child Repeat Annoyingly

Before my daughter could speak, she learned to sign, and the first sign she mastered was “more.” More meant more – like, ” Give me more milk before I scream-cry at 5-4-3-2-1 … ” – but to her it also meant “again.” Sing this song again. Press the toy cash register button again. Make that funny armpit sound again, again, again .

Children love repetition. Most parents understand this, but if you’ve read the same story for the last hundred days and this damn caterpillar is still hungry , you can’t help but think, “Come on, let’s diversify here.” You may even start wondering if your child is stuck. This was a problem I worried about when I chose a play-based preschool class for my daughter. On the one hand, I loved that the kids had the freedom to explore without hindering their routine. On the other hand, of course, although she could build things from Magna-Tiles, or dig in the sand, or watch the Komodo dragon, without any direction, wouldn’t she be doing the same thing at home all day, every day? ? (At the time, she was obsessed with putting diapers on dolls.)

“She could,” Headmaster Sylvia told me. “But what’s wrong with that?”

When I asked her about it again recently, she clarified. “What adults don’t see is that every time a child does something, they see something differently. Why do people travel to the same place over and over again as they travel? Every time you see something new. This is how you can get a true understanding of something. “

This is supported by scientific evidence. When kids do the same thing over and over – read the same books, throw and fill the same bucket, ask the same question – connections are made in their brains that are critical to learning and development. Language acquisition research showed that children who read the same book multiple times learned new words faster and retained the meaning of those new words better than children who read different texts. Another study found that when children reread stories, their conversations about the stories deepen with subsequent reading – their answers to questions become more varied and complex.

And repeating things just comforts children – and adults too. Getting to know each other makes us feel safe and less alone. Knowing what comes next is empowering. In this world of uncertainty and chaos, how nice is it to be able to say good night to the moon, stars, air and noise all over the place before falling asleep? An excerpt from The Daily Beast, entitled “We Have Been Greeting That Moon For 70 Years,” quotes Lucy Mitchell’s 1921 book Here and Now :

“Only the blind eyes of an adult find the familiar uninteresting. The attempt to entertain children by presenting them with the strange, the bizarre, the unreal is the unfortunate result of this adult blindness. Children do not find the unusual spicy until they become familiar with the ordinary. “

What should you do about repetitive behavior in your children? As tedious as they are, go with them. But not in a way that makes you crazy. Here are some tips:

  • Even as you flip through books, keep a few familiar favorites on the shelves.
  • Look for sequels and books by the same author – kids strengthen bonds when they have something familiar, such as a character or writing style.
  • Offer open source content that supports “patterns,” repetitive patterns of behavior. Here’s a great list from preschool educator Michelle Thornhill.
  • Gradually change what you are used to. For example, after reading the book again, cover a few words and let your child fill in the blanks. Or change the ending. Early Childhood Teacher Erica Key tells me that parents can use their children’s dedication to help them self-reflect. “Use this as an opportunity to ask, ‘What do you like about this? “She says. Over time, your child will feel confident enough to ask, “Okay, what’s next?”


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