My little boy is obsessed with concrete mixers, when he sees one he nearly explodes with excitement. He carries his own mixer around all day and even wants to sleep with it. My friend’s little boy is obsessed with Batman. He wears only Batman t shirts and eats from Batman plates. So what causes these intense obsessions and how should we handle them?
Obsessions start as early at twelve months and can last right up until school age. They are a completely normal stage of child development and often begin if a child has particularly enjoyed an activity or has found something soothing.
So why do toddlers like to repeat the same activity or hold the same object day after day? All toddlers like familiarity, it makes them feel safe and secure. It is a big scary world out there and if they have control over one thing it gives them a sense of security.
As a child gets older these obsessions usually move from single objects or toys to themes or characters. At around age three children start seeing things from another person’s perspective. Instead of just enjoying watching butterflies they can image being a butterfly. This new skill allows them to try out new roles and helps to develop self-expression.
As children grow, these obsessions lessen and eventually this phase will come to an end. They will generally grow out of it by the time they reach school age.
So whilst children are in the middle of a crazy obsession why not use it as a springboard for teaching? Help your child to learn the parts of a butterfly or look into its lifecycle. Discuss mixers, what they do and how they work. Use Spiderman as a way of teaching new skills. Spiderman can climb, let’s see if you can too!
When these obsession are over no doubt we will look back on them and laugh. I went to a friend’s house the other day and she was arguing with her son about not being able to drink from his favourite cup that had accidentally fallen into the toilet. Toddlers are strange little creatures that are so exhausting but so adorable all at the same time. Let’s try and enjoy them being small and remember that as with everything else, ‘this phase too shall pass’.