Does your toddler constantly make you repeat words after them? Do they repeat words over and over until they are acknowledged or you say the word? It isn’t so bad at first but day after day it begins to wear on you. My son went through a phase where he wanted me or my husband to repeat words back to him. He would continue to say the word until I repeated it back. It wasn’t that he was repeating things over and over randomly, his intention was to get me to say the word.
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Nothing in this piece should be taken as medical advice. If you have a medical concern please consult your doctor.
Why do toddlers repeat words over and over until they are acknowledged?
Toddlers love repetition. They also want to learn social skills and be included in conversation. It seems to be a phase that some toddlers go through. They may also want to make sure they are saying a word correctly. I know that my son wouldn’t do anything until he knew that he could do it 100% correctly. My daughter was way more apt to just try to say new words on the fly and never asked me to repeat things. It could also be for other reasons which we’ll talk about below.
When should you be concerned? Is it normal?
It could very well just be a normal toddler phase or it could be a sign or autism or Asperger’s syndrome. If you feel something is off then speak to your pediatrician. I was concerned about some things with my oldest and it was actually pretty painless to get him tested and it gave me so much peace of mind. If something is going on then you’ll be better prepared and equipped to deal with it, especially the earlier you find out.
It finds out my son was going through a normal toddler phase but I’m glad we got him tested and I didn’t have to worry that it was something else going on.
OK, so how do I deal with the constant repeating?
Let’s talk about real things you can do when your toddler repeats words until acknowledged. It can start to melt any parent’s brain after awhile.
Repeat it back
Repeat it back. That’s it, simple yet effective with the vast majority of young children. They want to be acknowledged and to know that they are understood. This is exhausting but it is the path of least resistance.
Have your toddler repeat to stuffed animals or other toys
This one can be hit or miss but it will also help your child be a little more independent. I was able to get my son to tell his stuffed animals or figurines the words he wanted to repeated sometimes. It was a nice break for me and as I mentioned before it helped him to grow to be a little more independent.
Distract your toddler with a new activity
Distraction is such a great parenting tactic. It can work really well when you’re feeling over all the endless repeating of words.
Mommy will repeat one time with you
Mommy will repeat once with you and then you have to play with your trucks, dolls, puzzle, etc. This is a win for your toddler because you’ll do what they want once and a win for you because you only have to do it once.
This was really hard for me, especially when I would see how excited my son would get when my parents came to visit. He would proudly bring over a picture book and want to show his grandma or grandpa that he knew ALL of the words. Of course he would want them to repeat the word back but it made him so happy to have their attention and show them what he knew. I could just see the pride in his little face. For me, I’m a softie so I stuck with the mommy will repeat it one time with you method. If you just can’t any more, being firm is the best way to end the repeating.
Read books with a lot of repetition
Having a structured source like a book (or also a TV show) might help alleviate the need for them to ask you constantly repeat things. I found that my son really, really liked The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I think part of it was because of the repetition of the, “but he was still hungry” part. Other books that have parts that repeat are Oh Dear and Pajama Time.
Watch shows with a lot of repetition
I found the Kid’s Picture show on YouTube one day while I was looking for a show about the days of the week. I took a look at their other shows (I always try to check out all the shows I let my kids watch first especially on YouTube). I found that it was really repetitive. I let my son watch and he loved it.
I really like that it is simple and they have books that go with the show so that your child can follow along. The show and the book helped my son to get the repetition of words he craved and it gave me a much needed break. I found once we started watching a few episodes a day that he stopped repeating things over and over until I said them as much.
Wait it out
Lastly, you can choose to just wait it out. It’s just a phase after all. I did a lot of research on this and like I mentioned earlier, I even had my son evaluated to make sure there were no other issues. He has gotten much better with the tactics I described above but I also know he’s only little once. It can be really annoying at times but I know it makes him happy so sometimes I just repeat things when he wants me to.
Do you have a toddler who constantly repeats words until acknowledged or repeats words over and over again until you say them? What have you found that helps with this phase?
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