An expert explains this common toddler behavior. When it comes to your toddler’s language development, do you ever wonder why they repeat themselves?

Why they like the same shows, the same songs, and even want to hear the same stories?

Dr. Bonnie Zucker, author of Anxiety-Free Kids, explains this common behavior:

Why Do Toddlers Repeat Themselves?

Q: I’m finding that my toddler likes to repeat a story or hear about something that happened in our day over and over again—sometimes weeks later. Usually the story he wants to hear or ask about involves something that was upsetting to him (losing a balloon, a library being closed etc).

  • Is this normal?
  • Is it a sign of anxiety?
  • Is this normal?
  • Any tips?

A:  Toddlers often use repetition to make sense of their experiences, and to process information. With repetition, they learn how to brush their teeth, eat with a fork, play certain games, and so on. With repetition, they learn how to gain mastery in their lives, and to develop a sense of confidence about their experience.

If a child has the tendency to repeat upsetting events, they are likely doing it to help process, both emotionally and cognitively, what has happened. This will allow him to better understand the event, and accept what has occurred.

Parents should respect this normal process, and in fact, support it. It is typically not a sign of anxiety.

By Bonnie Zucker Psy.D.

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