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Broken Record Baby

"Toy store!" my toddler Eli wailed. I tried everything, and nothing could stop him from yelling that phrase again and again. Sound familiar? Read on:

What it is: In developmental lingo, it's called "perseveration"  -- a fancy word to describe getting stuck on the same topic, activity, or phrase and repeating it.

Why it happens: Fatigue, frustration, hunger, and a limited means of controlling the world. Your desperate tot's vocabulary isn't very advanced yet, and it's difficult for him to put his feelings into words.

How to deal: As difficult as it may be, try not to get angry. Distract him, remove him from the situation, or play music. You can also repeat his words back to him, so that he knows you're listening.

If nothing works: Walk away (but keep him in sight, or in a safe place like his crib). Say soothing words if you have the patience, but realize that your toddler may just need to sort out his thoughts in silence.