Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Boring is Good

Nobody likes to do the same thing day after day after day, right? No, wrong. We'll get to that in a minute. First, the intro....
New to the Life is Therapy series? Here's a quick blurb to tell you what it's about:

Sometimes we parents can get bogged down in the notion that the teaching of our children must be done by professionals. Parents of children with special needs are particularly vulnerable to this idea since children with special needs often have to learn and develop quite differently than children with typical needs. This series centers around the idea that learning can and does occur most effectively through everyday life experiences at home and out in the community--for children with both typical and special needs.

Children actually do love to do the same things over and over again in the exact same way. That's why many, many parents complain that their heads will explode if they have to watch [insert friendly TV character from kids show] ever again. It's the same reason that night after night after night, kids choose the EXACT SAME book to be read as a bedtime story. That's why they ask you to read the book AGAIN as soon as you finish.

But this is so boring! Why? Why do they do it? Are they trying to drive us nuts? Make us go crazy? Yes! It's all a plot that they have all devised to bring us parents down so they can take over and eat all the candy they want. Of course not. Children just like to know what to expect. As adults when there is so much mundane routine to life, it's hard to remember that everything is new to children. They are constantly bombarded with new information and new abilities that they did not know they had.

Routines, repetition, and sameness give their world stability. When you are reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear what do you see for the fortylevenmillionth time, your child knows the next line is I see _________ looking at me. It's comforting. It helps them to feel confident that there are some things about this great big world that they do know.

AND when your child is able to draw upon that confidence, you will see them dare to do a little more.

For instance, Jack is a late talker. At 4.75 years old, he talks in mostly two to three word phrases with occasional longer phrases thrown in. But when mealtime comes, he can say an entire 22 word prayer with very little prompting/assistance. In fact, he begins by telling everyone to put their hands up, hands down, hands together. I know, "It's a miracle!" Well, yes, but it's a miracle brought about by the God given gift of routine. We say the same prayer the same way at EACH meal and it is the same one that they use at his school. Because David and I followed the school's lead and used their prayer, Jack was able to know what to expect at each meal. He ventured out a little at a time growing confident with each attempt and as the routine continued he said more and more until he did the whole thing. He even lead our small church in prayer one Sunday evening. He needed a little more prompting that time because it was a bit out of the norm but the prayer itself was so routine for him that he was able to apply it to the new situation.

So the next time, you think your head might explode by your child's insistence on doing something exactly the same way AGAIN remember he/she has a great big world to learn about and this is one way of making it all manageable.

Recent Life is Therapy Posts can be found at:
TV is NOT the Enemy
The Grocery Store
Know When to Stop

Now it's your turn to participate. This is where we share our ideas and stories with one another. We're all in this together. Let's laugh together, motivate one another, and stimulate each others ideas. If you have a blog, create your own "life is therapy" post and link to the specific post in the Mr. Linky below. If you don't have a blog just leave a comment with your life is therapy story.


Momisodes said...

This is so true. It's amazing how repetition and routines can help children feel more at ease and foster growth. Those Eric Carle books are great for that too! My daughter loved his books, as well as Goodnight Moon. Knowing what was ahead with each page turn is such a confidence booster!

sheila said...

Wow, I never thought of that but this post is right on the money! Very well written and enlightening...even to a mom of three teens. lol. Seriously, I actually learned something new here.

Maria - Ira's mum said...

So true Marie- even with Edie 3.5 going on 5.5 and a very smart little girl, she loves to watch the same movies over and over and some favourite stories. I hadn't thought about the fact that it could be reassuring to have some things repeated due to the enormity of new things our little ones face every day!

Ira on the other hand at 1.5- doesn't seem at all interested in my reading to him- won't sit still. He's not even a fan of TV. This of course worries me!

Anyway- thanks so much for sharing

Maria x

Mary @ Parenthood said...

I read somewhere too that repetition is crucial in order to be able to develop a sense of humour + perspective on things. I guess because often things that are unexpected can be funny? I forget what the theory was now.

Interesting though. Certainly we are creatures of habit in our house (although it's good to be able to deal with disruptions in routine too)

Marie said...

Maria--read anyway. If Ira is anything like Jack, he is listening while doing all that flopping around. As the stories become more familiar (from hearing them again and again) he'll become more interested. Of course, interested does not equal sit still. He'll still be himself. :) Jack sits more as he matures but not too much.

mommytoalot said...

Wow...that's so true though. Joey could sing O Canada and say the Our Father..just from school, long before he could talk in sentences.
Great post Marie,
sorry I haven't played along ...this week has been busy.

Anonymous said...

Hi Marie,
I have found this to be true with all my children too!! No matter how old the child is, and no matter how babyish the book is, like "Owl Babies" or even "Blue Hat, Green Hat"- all the kiddos gather around to listen. I resurrected a 25th anniversary of Sesame Street video and we couldn't stop watching it, even my 17 yr old son had fun listening to all the old songs he grew up on!!
thanks Marie for reminding us of the value of repetition in the learning process.

Marie said...

Thanks Julie I'm glad you found it helpful. Sorry all that I am late in replying. It's been tough around here.