The Benefits of Repetition in Toddlers
Almost as soon as they start forming words it seems that most toddlers learn to say the word ‘again’ and then they use it, again and again! This obsession with repeating the same tasks or listening to the same story can start to become a little tedious, particularly to us parents. However, whilst they may be sending us slowly and surely around the bend they are actually mastering important new skills.
Understanding how this works may help to alleviate a little of the tedium we feel when we read the same book or watch the same DVD for the 100th time. With this in mind here are a few clues on how repetition helps our little ones:
- Small children are constantly looking for patterns and regularity to help them to figure out how the world works and how they fit into it.
- Children find comfort and security in rituals because knowing what they will do at any particular time is reassuring. Many toddlers insist on using the same drinking cup or wearing the same shoes every single day. They feel reassured by the constant that this provides in their lives. This is why children tend to play up more when they are taken out of their comfort zone and exposed to new experiences.
- Through repetition, your toddler will take in new information each time they go through a sequence. It explains why they will repeatedly choose the same book night after night for their bedtime story. They are learning something new every single time.
- Toddlers love stories and nursery rhymes which have repeated phrases because they can begin to join in. Each time the words are repeated they are remembering more new words. If you try to deviate from the story you may find that your child will correct you.
- After a fairly short period of time, you will notice that your toddler can finish many of the sentences and rhymes in favourite books or effortlessly join in with dialogue during a favourite cartoon or film.
- Once a toddler knows the ending to a story, they are better able to pay attention to the story during future readings. There is a strong sense of excitement and self-congratulation when they know they are getting it right every time.
- When your child insists on playing with the same item over and over again, you may start to notice them introducing subtle changes each time as they learn more and more how their toys work.
- Repeating experiences over and over also guards against forgetting some skills. Even as adults we have to practice skills in order to retain our abilities, a little like when we learn to drive and have to have several lessons. For a toddler every single skill that they master is a new one and repeating it over and over is a way of remembering and reinforcing this ability for the future.
However much reading a particular book, playing with only one toy or watching the same DVD over and over can begin to wear you down, understanding that this is part of an ongoing process of learning will definitely help you to grin and bear the tedium. Nevertheless, it’s still our prerogative, as parents, to call time on the tenth reading of ‘Room on the Broom’ every night. Sometimes we have to learn when we are being played, if only for our own sanity!