Have you ever been your child’s horse? When my oldest daughter was young, there was nothing that delighted her more than having my now-husband get down on all fours and let her ride on his back, as if he were her horse. My daughter loved horses at the time, and so having a child-sized horse at her beck and call was pure delight for her! I’m going to finish this quick story to tell you why I believe being repetitive with children is so important!
At the time, I was a single mom falling in love with this man, and he was an amazing father figure for her. He doted on her and did what he could to gain her trust and approval. Therefore, whenever she wanted a horsey ride, there he was, ready to go.
I found this to be adorable and sweet, but also sometimes frustrating, as I felt like he sometimes put her horse desires above our relationship. So, mostly joking, one day I finally said, “Do you want to be Becca’s horse?…or do you want to be my boyfriend?” He and I find this question very funny to this day!
Of course, we found a happy medium, and my daughter’s horse became my husband. And, eventually, he became the horse to my daughter and our new baby son.
Thank goodness, they grew up and found new things to be obsessed with. My husband’s knees thank them!
And, this is just one example of why being repetitive with children is so important. Exhibiting a certain behavior once can turn into what seems like a lifetime of repeating the same behavior.
1. Repetition is Key
As a busy mom, do you ever get tired of being repetitive with children? Have you ever read a book to your child so many times that you ended up memorizing it? I know I certainly have! This is because your child couldn’t get enough of it! And if you read to your child, and I certainly strongly encourage you to do so if you don’t, you have definitely been in the same boat. Kids love to hear the same story over and over…and over again!
When our kids were little, they loved having us read the same book for days…no, more likes weeks…on end. We found it humorous but also became quite bored by it. But we wondered why they didn’t pick one of the other 100 or so books of which they could choose (I have a thing for children’s books).
What was it about this one particular book that had them hooked? The funniest part was that our older son’s favorite book for a while was Christmas-themed, and we weren’t anywhere near this season! It didn’t matter to him, we were going to read that book for what seemed like eternity.
2. Learning Is a Product of Repetition!
Children are learning through repetition before they are even born. When they are still in the womb, they are experiencing taste, smell and sound. From the foods that their mother is eating to the sound of her voice, that repetition is teaching them what they like and what is familiar.
When they are born, their mother’s face is the first face that will become familiar to this new baby as they have already learned her voice from the repetition of hearing it through their months in the womb. This makes me think of the Modern Family episode (watch it if you aren’t familiar – it’s one of my favorite sitcoms!) when Gloria is trying to bond with her unborn baby…she hooks up this microphone and headphone contraption to her big belly and sings loud and proud, if not very beautifully, to her future child – she doesn’t seem to understand that her voice could use some lessons, she just wants her baby to hear her.
And while Gloria obviously loves singing, It is human nature to repeat things that we enjoy. And being repetitive with children only adds a better sense of security. The familiarity of a favorite song, fingerplay, or book teaches your child the predictability of repetition. And it allows them some sense of control in their life as they navigate the infinite amount of things that are new to them.
3. Repetition Is Effective in Developing Language Skills
Seeking repetitive play, stories, or music is a typical part of your child’s development. It encourages learning and prediction.
Did you know that a baby needs to hear a word 1,000 times to learn it? And a toddler needs to hear a new word about 50 times to master it? By the time a child heads to Kindergarten, they may need to hear a new word just a few times to learn it.
Being repetitive with children builds confidence and self-esteem as they make these brain connections.
4. Variety Can Happen with Repetition
Rather than feeling weary of your being repetitive with your children, embrace it and mix it up. Here’s how you can mix it up!
- When you’re reading the same book for the 51st time, change some of the words in an obvious way and see if your children catch on and correct you. They will probably LOVE correcting you, and their silly giggles can only make it a lot more fun for you, too!
- While they may have a favorite book or song that they insist on hearing, mix it up on your part. Let them have their usual favorite book, but then you get to pick out a new one to share with them. This will expand their horizons, and may actually pique their interest in a new book or new genre.
- Make sure to bring home quality books and toys, to begin with. If you found it uninteresting in the store, it’s not going to get any better at home. Ask your child questions as the two of you make decisions about what to buy – “what do you like about this book?”, “how many pieces does this puzzle have?”, “do you think there are other books about (dinosaurs, trains, weather, etc)?”.
- Let your child join you in selecting new books…whether that be checking them out from the library or purchasing them at your local bookstore. This will encourage them to make some new choices when it’s time for stories with mom or dad.
- Embrace this time. It may feel like it will never end, but believe me, as a parent of three and preschool educator for more than 25 years, all phases end. And time goes by way too fast. In a few years, you’ll be longing for the days of bedtime stories and high-pitched giggles.
There you have it, reasons why being repetitive with children is so important!