Have you ever seen little children sweeping the ground with tremendous interest and concentration?
Going up and down the stairs for no reason countless times?
Arranging blocks in a particular pattern over and over again?
Washing their hands twenty times or more, long after they are sparkling clean?
Repeating activities so many times that you end up wondering from where they draw their energy and what pleasure repetition of the same activity could give them?
This is a phenomenon that is observed universally among very young children and if you are associated with young children you will have witnessed this at some point.
What do we do when this happens? There are just two options.
Let the child do the activity for as long as he wants to and for as many times as he wants to.
Stop him from doing it repeatedly.
What would prompt an adult to stop a child from repeating an activity? Probably he feels the child is wasting his time doing something that neither makes sense nor achieves a meaningful end result.
But think about it. Does everything we do in life need an end result? Sometimes don’t we all do things just because we like doing them? In very young children, there seems to be an even greater force driving them to do things repeatedly, for no apparent reason.
As per Dr Maria Montessori (an Italian educator and doctor who is the genius behind the popular Montessori system of education that is followed world over today), it is nature that drives children to perform tasks over and over again. No one knows why this is so but this repetition of the activity seems to fulfil an innate developmental need in the children. This is evident by the satisfaction one sees on a child’s face at the end of an activity that he has performed to his heart’s content.
So, the next time a child is found repeating an activity that does not make sense to you and you feel like stopping him, pause for a moment to observe the child. Is he interested in the activity? Is he concentrating on the activity with all his might? Is it giving him a sense of satisfaction? If yes, let him have the freedom to repeat the activity to his heart’s content. Interest, concentration and a sense of satisfaction felt over and over again would also result in the development of confidence in the child. And if it is nature that is driving children to do certain activities over and over again, why should anyone stop them from doing it? Let nature run its course and the little child have his share of joyous moments, while we sit back to observe him in peace and learn to find joy in his joy!
Just as we do not like to be disturbed while doing something we thoroughly enjoy, let us not disturb children when they do the things they enjoy.