Right now my toddler’s favourite television program is called ‘Let’s Play’. It’s an edutainment series which has to do with occupational role play.


Now, in this day and age where children are surrounded with all sorts of disturbing content, you can understand my delight when I discovered my daughter walking down the ‘edutainment’ path. So to both encourage and reward her interest I recorded all available episodes of the series. I was so sure that by introducing this wide array of variety, I was doing her one huge favour which will leave her thanking me for the next many months. Or, at least, until she finally grew tired of all 39 recorded episodes. But boy, was I wrong!
You see, my toddler wasn’t particularly interested in variety. Once she had sampled a handful of the episodes, she decided that going forward, all she wanted to watch was Season 2 Episode 18 of the series. As in, she became hooked on this particular episode which had to do with ballroom dancing. So morning, afternoon and evening, whenever the television was turned on, she would request for this same, old episode where the same, old ‘Sid and Rebecca’ take on the same, old steps, while the same, old music played on in the background.

Then as soon as the 20 minutes episode was over, she would immediately request for a replay. What!? To be honest, what I find especially fascinating about everything is the fact that each new replay is most times watched with as much enthusiasm as the last.

Now though my mind always goes, ‘Goodness, aren’t you tired yet?’, I hardly let her in on my exasperation. Instead whenever she sings along, acts along or delightedly squeals out, ‘mommy see that..’ or ‘mommy watch this…’ I am always careful to match her excitement by responding with a ‘’Wow…’ or an ‘Oops..’ or an ‘Oh..oh..’ or a Big, hearty laugh.

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Yes, though I sometimes find this repeated activity exasperating, I still haven’t found enough reason to burst her bubble. Nevertheless playing along hasn’t stopped me from questioning why in the world she would think that a plot we watched about 20 minutes ago would still spark this much surprise and excitement in me? Or should I say a plot that we have watched about 3 times in the last hour? Or better still, one that we have been watching about 10 times (per day) in the last 30 something days of our lives?

I’m sure you must be aware of the fact that children are crazy about repetition and that’s why long after you’ve gotten bored of ‘Óld Mc Donald had a farm’, they are still having a blast singing along. As tiring as this may sometimes prove to be, it’s important that you do not shut down this repetition for the following reasons:

    1. Repetition teaches the child the concept of çonsequence. So s/he learns that ‘If this and that is done, ‘This and that will automatically follow’

 

    1. Repetition affords the child the opportunity to practice. For example, after hearing the words ‘Ballroom Dancing’ over and over again, my toddler can now pronounce them right.

 

    1. Repetition builds a child’s memory by helping him or her remember. For example initially, when I asked my daughter the names of the characters in her beloved series, she went blank. But now, after repeat watches, she remembers that they are called Sid and Rebecca.

 

    1. Beyond remembering, repetition helps the child understand. For example, even though her favourite episode is about ballroom dancing, my toddler didn’t really understand what ballroom dancing was all about. But now I see her following the story with more understanding as she calls my attention to specific scenes, bursts into laughter when certain actions take place, reprimands or praises the characters, etc.

 

    1. Repetition gives children the pleasure of celebrating success. For example, now that my toddler is better at following and understanding the storyline, she celebrates her milestone by excitedly participating in the story. For example she sometimes completes the characters’ sentences or tells me what will happen next,etc. Watching her predictions materialize is something that creates a sense of accomplishment in her

 

  1. Finally, repetition helps children develop trust in this very uncertain world they have found themselves in. It gives them a sense security and helps them feel in control.

*This is not to say that you shouldn’t encourage your children to try out new things. By all means, you should! But don’t forget the role of repetition in all of this.

Is your child also guilty of repetition? We would love to hear your own story!!!

Image courtesy: www.bbc.co.uk, www.youtube.com, mom.me, http://www.parentingthroughschoolyears.com/blackish-and-instant-mom-able-to-stretch-black-teens-career-horizons/