Every single night before 22-month-old Ari Fader-Van Luyn nods off, he asks his mom who else is sleeping at their house--on an endless loop. "It's the same questions, over and over again," says his mom, Sarah Fader, of Brooklyn. "He'll also point at our cat and ask, 'What's that?' and two seconds later, ask again. After giving the same answer 3,000 times, I want to move on!"
Many toddlers just seem to love these repeated inquiries--much to their parents' chagrin. why? Leon Hoffman, M.D., codirector of the Pacella Parent Child Center at the New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute, can name a few reasons. He says they might be trying to:
Understand Words: Children between the ages of 1 and 2 are just learning to talk, so they repeat questions to get clear on what each word means.
Build Memory: Sometimes it takes a little while for new information to sink into a toddler's developing mind. Hearing a trusted parent give the same answers time and again can help drive unfamiliar concepts home.
Check In: Since toddlers find comfort in repetition, rewinding and replaying questions is just a way of asking for emotional support.
Dr. Hoffman suggests you take the time to answer as often as you can stand it. "Your child is asking for a reason, even if that's not always clear. Be matter-of-fact and don't let it get to you," he says. "It will pass!"