Repetition, Repetition, Repetition



’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe.
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
      The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
      The frumious Bandersnatch!”

Source: The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (1983)

I love this nonsense poem. It’s a fun poem to memorize because it sounds like nonsense when you begin reciting it and then it makes perfect sense when you have it down pat.

When some of my children were working on memorizing this, we watched YouTube videos for pronunciation and then read along with them until we got the hang of the correct pronunciation. As Audrey said yesterday, the physical laws of the universe are like this nonsense poem to children who have neurological development issues caused by neglect, FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) and are on the autism spectrum. I call these capital letter syndromes. Many children from hard places have them. The laws of nature are nonsense to them. In order to learn the laws in their proper form, the must have repeated experiences with them. Over and over and over.

A common misconception of these children is that they are in control of the laws. They can decide what they can and cannot do and because of this faulty thinking, a child will think he can ride a bike perfectly the first time he gets on it because he wills it to be so. He thinks the same about any outdoor endeavor: climbing trees, rollerblading, swimming, etc. If he attempts these things and falls the first couple seconds, he may erupt in a violent outburst and determine that he will never do ________ (fill in the blank) because he is not good at.


The first few times I saw this type of behavior in my kiddos, I was baffled. Some kids threw skates, bikes, stormed out of pools, kicked trees, and I scratched my head. Then I remembered: control. Hurt children want to control everything and they think they do. In that sense the world is static. They want to rollerblade and they think they can because they will it to be. When he puts on those roller blades for the first time and falls, he assumes there is no changing it. That is just the way it is. There is no way he has the power to change it or otherwise he would have already. This sort of thinking seems irrational to the healthy child who knows there are laws of nature and that learning a new thing has a steep curve. The healthy child has been practicing new things his entire life. He makes progress in areas of physical and mental development. The hurt child is stuck.

So what do you do? Audrey gave some great suggestions in yesterday’s post. I would add  the answer to that old joke my brother loved pester people with when we were kids:

Pete and Repeat were in a boat. Pete fell out. Who was left?

Pete and Repeat were in a boat. Pete fell out. Who was left?

Repetition is the key to children from hard places learning the laws of nature. Each of these kids has to start at the beginning, even if it means working on smaller tasks of balance, floating and sinking, gravity experiments when their peers have those concepts down pat. In this area, assume nothing. Don’t think your eight year old knows that the solid form of water is ice. Don’t assume anything. Be willing to work out little experiments to show them.

When the child wants to give up after one try on roller blades, strap some on yourself, put up some orange cones and skate around in circles with him, encouraging him (firmly) and patiently to try it again. And again. I spent the warmer seasons of a year getting one of my kids around those cones on rollerblades (my leg muscles were awesome that year). There were tears, fits, objects were thrown (and it wasn’t me that time) and finally there was VICTORY. Cheers. Smiles. And that kid now whizzes past me at the skating rink.

Delayed or compromised neurological function is paired with developmental delays. A child who was kept in a crib for most of his toddlerhood will need years to catch up, not just months. These kids need the same sort of repetition their peers got at an early age. They need to fall and get up (at whatever age they are now) as many or more times as they would have as a toddler. These kids need to feel grass and rocks under their bare feet to know the difference. They need to climb and fall. Wreck a bike. And as we watch these repeated practices, we cheer them on. We encourage and firmly expect that they try again. Then we rejoice with them.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
      Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
      He chortled in his joy.
Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor! Join us! Click on the widget below:
TWWbutton200x200_zps62610d74On another note: I will be speaking at the CHEWV celebration this Saturday, May 16. Hope to see you there!  You can find out more HERE.

One thought on “Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

  1. Oh, friend, God knows I need repetition for my stubborn heart too. 🙂 Good encouragement here. I’m glad you linked up at #ThreeWordWednesday.

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