4 Year Old Repeating Same Word over and Over, like Mantra.

Updated on March 04, 2011
K.L. asks from Los Angeles, CA
11 answers

I know similar questions have been asked before, but it seems to me that they were related mainly to 2-year-olds, and in those cases I think repeating words or sentences over and over is a normal part of speech development. My daughter, who will turn 4 next month, was an early talker and has never had any speech issue. She's also bilingual, can read all the letters of the alphabet, and is doing very well in preschool, also at a social level, despite being quite shy with adults. She has a very "strong" personality and is at times very stubborn and emotional, but at the same time she is a very affectionate and friendly child.

She seems very interested in numbers and math (she learned to do simple additions by herself), so one day my husband taught her the number pi (3.14). A couple of weeks later she started repeating that word (3.14) over and over, while playing by herself and with other kids, or even while watching tv and gymnastic class! We decided not to make a big issue about it and see if she'd get over it by herself. It's been a few days now and she's still doing it (always with the same word). I find it very hard to ignore it (especially since people have started noticing and asking questions), so I've asked her nicely to stop, at least when other people are talking, but after a while she'll start again (often whispering the word or just mouthing it). When she's doing it, she doesn't seem upset or stressed out, but sometimes she'll stop doing something just to utter the word a few times, like a ritual. When asked why she says it, she says that "she likes that word".
I'm going to call her pediatrician and ask for advice in a couple of days, if she doesn't stop, but I just wanted to see if anybody else had a similar experience. Thanks in advance for your input!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

I just wanted to thank all the wonderful parents who replied to my question so quickly with their reassurances and advice.
It did turn out to be just a phase. She still says it every so often, kind of like a "magic word" when trying to do something difficult or answering a question.
I realize I jumped to conclusions too soon and worried for nothing, but I'm so glad to have posted this question. All of your comments helped me being a bit more reasonable and less worried.
Thanks again!

Featured Answers



answers from Reno on

Kids often do this with a word they particularly like, or particularly hate. Some do it with whole sentences. I even know some adults who'll do something similar. :) Don't worry too much, but let her know that just as she finds it interesting and amusing, some people are really annoyed by repetition. Ask her to keep it to a minimum, or silent, when she's with others.

More Answers



answers from Redding on

I, personally, would not worry about this.
For one thing, little kids can be weird.
It's perfectly normal.
For another thing, how many 4 year olds know what pi is?
If she knows it irritates you, she will likely do it more.
People have started noticing and asking questions? So what?
When my daughter was 3, her favorite thing to say was cardiopulmonary resuscitation. She thought it was great fun for us to practice CPR.
Also, she loved to sing.....
"2.54 centimeter worm, 2.54 centimeter worm, measuring the marigolds, seems to me you'd stop to see how beautiful they are."
2.54 centimeters equals an inch. If anyone ever said anything, it was usually, "What little kid knows that stuff?"
It may seem repetitive to you, but I can promise she'll never forget what pi is. Maybe have your husband take it a step further and show her how to use it in an equation. Maybe she's got a love and a knack for numbers and will be a mathemetician. Or a wealthy accountant.
Maybe she's just being 4 and has found something she likes to repeat.

Listen, I was a weird little kid. I admit it.
For instance, I used to walk around in public with my eyes half shut because I thought people would think I was Chinese. I vividly remember it. I never thought for a second my blonde hair would give me away.
It probably drove my mother crazy, but she never said anything and I grew out of it. She didn't call the doctor to find out what was wrong with me.
She did follow my school's recommendation to have me tested and as it turned out, I was a "gifted" child.
I have no doubt there were days my mother wished I wasn't.

Believe it or not, I turned out pretty "normal" with "normal" little weird kids of my own.
I wouldn't worry too much about it at this point.

Just my opinion.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Dear K., I am going to give you SOUND advice. Ask yourself what you really think the Dr. would suggest? I'll tell you this because when my son was saying "Right" Right... Right every 2 seconds I was wierded out too. I googled repetative behavior in children and came up with ALLLL KINDS of great stuff to totally stress myself out about OCD, Autism, Aspergers..... DON'T do it to yourself. I like what Shane said below, little kids are wierd and wonderful. They don't have adult hangups about what is or isn't acceptable behavior and just go with what is fun. My daughter was like completely blocking me out at age 4 and I realized after a while that she was listening to herself chew something crunchy. Don't be in a hurry to "DIAGNOSE" anything. My son does get a little compulsive sometimes but I still at age 5 and a half redirect behavior and that works. Maybe give her another little phrase, go to the library and get a super silly book like Dav Pilkey's Ricky Ricotta and ham it up whenyou read it to her. Just keep an eye on it and let the Ped know at your next scheduled appointment unless you see it trending in a negative way. Isn't it crazy how much we worry about these little stinkers.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lynchburg on

Hi K.-

Not to be cavalier...but feel 'blessed' that it is NOT a curse word!!

She will out grow it...and/or is going to be a math whiz!

Take Care!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Modesto on

hahaha. three point one four. I think I'll start saying it to.
It's a phase.
No worries.
She likes the poetry of it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cumberland on

Teach her phi-1.618.......!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Okay, well first off, it probably is a phase, but I get why you're a bit weirded out. ;) I might call your pediatrician too if you don't notice it going away. Have you tried asking her if she can say it inside her head instead of our loud, like a thought. She's probably old enough to understand that and it's worth a try.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

It can be a stage that she is going through, or she just likes the way it sounds but do like you stated go to the doctors and see what he or she says. I remember when my daughter was going through a stage it was with her clothes that she wore inside out which would be the pants and her shirt backwards it was kind a funny. But that all it was a stage all children go through it. Good luck to your family


answers from Las Vegas on

Sounds like a phase. It is frustrating, but it will pass eventually. My daughter's 2 but she does it too. She'll repeat sentences over and over and over and over and over... lol you get what I mean. As she said, she probably really likes the word. Especially if she likes piE haha.



answers from Phoenix on

I used to say 'Furthermore' which came out as 'fudamo' ....I clearly remember enjoying the feeling it made coming out across my lips. Same age. Same complaint from my parents. I could care less what they or others thought of my wonderful word and sensation it made.

And yes, I outgrew it. I got laughed at a lot. And this did not deter me in the least.



answers from San Francisco on

My nephew used to do that.....He has a genius level IQ, attended college (Stanford and UCLA early) graduated college with a B.S by 16 and had his Phd by his mid 20s. Your story about your daughter reminded me of him at age 4. It sort of drove us bonkers but my Mom had tested his reading and comprehension level was very high so we thought it came along with the territory :-). It still wouldn't hurt to talk to her pediatrician but please also let him know how advanced she is for her age in Math and the context. She's probably gearing up to start reciting ALL the digits she knows LOL. Have fun with her and enjoy the ride! My Nephew was only 8 years younger than I am. I remember when he was 2 and I was 10 he explained to me in great scientific detail (and passion) thunder and lightening. I knew in that moment I had to set aside any ego and just enjoy or it could drive me nuts!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions