Why do they do that? The same thing over and over again

The short version:

Sometimes kids do things over and over again because it’s fun. Go with it and decide to enjoy watching them have fun. Even if it’s boring for you.

The long version:

Yesterday, I spent part of the day with my nephew. We had an amazing time! We built and then knocked over about 100 sand castles. We read the same book about 8 times in a row. And we also played this very very fun game. I can best describe it as “The Hello Game”. Here’s how it went:

First - my nephew put a bucket in front of his head and said “hello”; Then, I said, “coo-coo” and we both laughed hysterically. Then he put the bucket in front of his face and said “hello”. Then I said, “moo-moo”. And we both laughed hysterically. Then….

You can see where this is going. We probably spent about 5-10 minutes playing this ridiculously simple game -- to my nephew’s great delight.

Was it super interesting for me? No.

But did I love seeing the look on his face when we had gone another round? YES!

And was it super fun for him? YES!

But why? Two basic reasons: control and connection.

Control because toddlers have learned that their behavior influences their adults’ behavior. And they’re learning how to leverage that for their benefit. Not for any nefarious purposes, but to get their needs and wants met and to feel good in their own skin.

Connection because what your toddler wants - more than anything - is to be in relationship with you. Sometimes it feels like they are already so close they’re suffocating you. It feels like they take up so much time, just in the care and feeding of them. And it’s true: they need a lot of taking care of from us adults. But more than being taken care of (fed, changed, napped, entertained), they want to feel close to us. Like they matter to us. Like they are the most important thing in the world to us.

So how do we give them that feeling without going stark raving mad? In small bursts of time when we are fully present. When the only thing we are doing in that moment is playing “The Hello Game” or building and knocking over sandcastles.

If you can tolerate 5 minutes of that - do 5 minutes. If you’re like my brother and can tolerate whole days of it, do that if you can!

It’s not about the amount of time.

It’s about the quality of the time and attention that you give. It’s about showing your child that they are worthy of your full attention just for being in the world.

What would happen if you gave yourself over to experiencing your child’s delight in simple, short interactions? How will you start to feel? Will you let me know by sending me a message?

All my best - Gabriele