The Power of Repetition

The power of repetition has generally been ingrained into us without our realising. It’s not until living with a toddler can we really see the degree to which repetition is an essential part of the learning process. There are moments when the constant recycling of the same conversations can be to the limit of draining our will to live as parents but it’s the thought that these processes are what’s required for them to feel confident with their rapidly acquired knowledge.

A Thousand Times and Counting…

I can’t imagine how many times my daughter has woken up to remind me of the names of every object in her bedroom.

“Wabbit.”
“Yes, that’s the rabbit.
“Dat’s window.”
“Yes, that’s the window.”
“Door.”
“Yes… that’s the door.”
“Gween.”
“Yes, that’s green.”

Some days these little exchanges are delightful, radiant conversations full of wonder and confidence-building engagement… other days I have to dig deep to maintain any kind of interest in a game that is getting less than entertaining.

Patience and Persistence

In those moments, I have to remind myself of the incredible patience my parents must have shown me in order to learn to speak and to read and to write so confidently. Our two year old is fascinated by letters at the moment and every time she see the letter ‘m’, she has to remind me that it’s for Mama. P is for Papa. G is for Grandad. We must be well into the hundreds if not thousands of times already. It really is a miracle that there aren’t more infant mortalities these days.

When it’s more of a struggle, I also try to remind myself how hard it’s been to learn how to be a (relatively) stable adult. I’m 45 and still just getting to grips with the effects of tiredness on my own ability to be a good parent. It’s so easy to see the effects of fatigue on children but it’s taken four decades for me to finally accept that I’m equally touched by lack of rest… how one late bedtime can affect my mood for a couple of days… such that the magic and beauty of parenting can seep away… transforming my children into little brats sent expressly to torture me and curse my very existence.

The Power of Repetition

Learning is not an overnight experience, it requires practical immersion over extensive periods of time before we can really say we’ve learnt something fully. Life is an apprenticeship without end, where knowledge is accumulated by on-the-job activity, repeated for thousands of hours. As a teacher and parent it’s good for me to remember this. Sharing knowledge would be so great if it could be condensed into a brief five minute chat, knowledge transferred, job done, like receiving a download from the Matrix. The grim truth is that developing skills and understanding takes hours and hours… if not days, months and years. The power of repetition is not to be under-estimated… and neither is the power of patience and proper rest.

The power of repetition - rows and rows of rubber ducks