Have you noticed your little one repeating words and phrases lately? If so, don’t worry, it’s totally normal. As toddlers develop language skills, repeating words and phrases is common and helps them learn.
At around 18 months to 2 years of age, many toddlers go through a stage where they mimic and repeat what they hear as they start gaining more independence with communication.
Their little brains are absorbing so much new information, repetition helps strengthen those neural connections.
While it can be annoying at times, try not to discourage the behavior. Respond to your child when they repeat themselves and have a conversation. Repeat what they say to validate them and show you understand.
This stage will pass, so appreciate how adorable they are while repeating “ball” or “milk” over and over. Their language skills will continue to blossom over the next year.
Possible Explanations for Repetitive Speech in Children
Has your little one been repeating certain words, phrases or sentences recently? Don’t worry, it’s typically normal language development. There are a few possible explanations for repetitive speech in children:
- Learning language. Repeating words and phrases is how kids learn to speak. As their vocabulary and grammar skills develop, the repetition will fade.
- Expressing excitement. Sometimes kids just get really enthusiastic about a new word or phrase and want to say it over and over. They’re exploring the way the word sounds and how it can be used.
- Seeking reassurance. Occasionally, repetitive speech is a way for a child to seek comfort or make sure they have your attention. Give them some focused time together and reassure them of your interest and care.
- Delayed echolalia. This is when a child echoes back words or phrases they heard previously, even hours or days later. It’s usually a sign their language skills are developing, though sometimes it’s a way of processing or remembering information.
The repetitive speech will decrease over time for most children. However, if your child continues frequent echoing or repeating for more than 6-12 months, or shows other signs like limited eye contact or engagement, talk to their pediatrician.
Early intervention services can help ensure your child’s speech and language development are on track.
The repetitive ramblings of little kids can be annoying, but remember that it’s a normal and temporary part of them learning to communicate.
With patience, love and the occasional reminder to “give it a rest”, this phase will pass before you know it!
Strategies to Help Reduce Repetitive Speech
If your little one frequently repeats words, phrases or entire sentences, don’t worry – this is common in children and often goes away on its own. In the meantime, there are some things you can do to help reduce repetitive speech:
Give your child your full attention when they speak. Make eye contact, stop what you’re doing and listen. This makes them feel heard and less likely to repeat themselves.
Gently remind your child that you understood them the first time. Say something like “I heard you, you said [repeat what they said].” Then respond to show you understand.
Model the behavior you want to see. Speak clearly and avoid repeating yourself. Kids often mimic parents, so setting a good example can help.
Find alternate ways for your child to express themselves. Teach some simple signs or provide picture cards they can point to. This gives them another outlet to communicate their needs.
Set a limit and follow through. Calmly tell your child you will only respond to them the first time they say something. If they repeat, don’t engage. Be consistent and they will learn.
Make sure any hearing issues have been addressed. Sometimes repetitive speech can be a sign of hearing loss or auditory processing problems. Talk to your pediatrician if you have concerns.
With patience and the right strategies, repetitive speech is usually outgrown. Focus on keeping communication open, set good boundaries and remember that this is temporary. Your child’s speech will continue to improve over time!
When to Be Concerned About Excessive Repetition
Excessive Repetition of Sounds or Words
If your child frequently repeats the same sounds, words, or phrases over and over, it could be a sign of a speech or language delay. While some repetition is normal in toddlers and preschoolers as they learn language, excessive repetition that continues for months can be a red flag.
Some examples of excessive repetition to watch out for include:
- Repeating the same word or phrase 10-20 times in a row
- Getting “stuck” repeating a sound, word or phrase and needing help to stop
- Repeating words or phrases said by others (echolalia)
- Repetition that causes frustration or distress for your child or interferes with everyday activities
If your child exhibits these behaviors, discuss your concerns with their pediatrician. They may refer you to a speech language pathologist, who can evaluate your child’s language skills and determine if speech therapy is needed. Early intervention is key, as speech therapy and other treatments tend to be most effective when started before age 5.
Don’t be alarmed, as many children with excessive repetition do catch up with speech therapy and time. But it’s best to have their speech and language skills assessed by a professional.
The good news is, with support, most children can overcome language delays and go on to develop age-appropriate speech and communication abilities.
So there you have it, the common reasons why your little one might be repeating themselves. While it can certainly be frustrating at times, try not to worry too much. For the most part, it’s a normal part of a child’s language development and cognitive growth.
With patience, encouragement and by modeling the communication style you want to see, this habit will likely fade over time. In the meantime, show them lots of love and patience. Kids grow up fast, so take a deep breath and try to appreciate this quirk while it lasts!