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Toddlers love repetition because that's the way they learn best. Hearing something many times helps them remember information for increasing periods of time. Young toddlers (12 to 18 months) particularly need repetition — more so than a 2 1/2-year-old, say — to learn and remember new information.
Once your child has learned something, she'll enjoy repetition because she can anticipate what comes next. After many readings of a familiar book, your child may even remember it well enough to add the endings to most of the sentences. This accomplishment means that she can participate more actively in story time. (For more interesting facts about reading, be sure to take our quiz.) This is also why simple songs and nursery rhymes have such an impact on a toddler: Not only can your child practice her speaking skills and vocabulary by singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" nine times in a row, but she also has the satisfaction of feeling she's added something concrete to her repertoire.
Toddlers repeat activities for the same reason — the sheer joy of mastering something. Once she's learned to put a puzzle together, your child may want to do it over and over just to enjoy her new skill. Repetition is her way of reminding herself of what she can do and enjoying that excitement of completion all over again.
Parents can put their toddler's love of repetition to good use when it comes to easing bedtimes, mealtimes, and other transitions when a toddler's natural resistance often comes into play. Because toddlers feel more in control — and therefore more secure and comfortable — when they can predict what's going to happen, following a strict routine can keep things calm. If you repeat the same sequence of activities every night — dinner, bath, teeth, story time, and bed — your child will relax into the routine and may even participate. Ask your toddler "What do we do next?" and you may even (on a good night) hear a resounding cry of "Bath time!"