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Repetitive games - how can I stop him?

Posted by on Jan. 16, 2014 at 4:35 AM
  • 10 Replies

Hi my 3 year old son engages in repetitive imaginary play. He comes up with a sequence of events and does it over and over again. He pretends to go to office. He takes a bottle of water, pretends to put shoes, closes the bedroom door and pretends to drive his car to office. Then he comes home from office, knocks the door, removes shoes, washes hands, warms food in the microwave,eats it. He talks and engages with a person while playing this game. The person has to sit at a particular position (like on the bed , or the couch) throughout the game. He accepts some minor changes in his game, but will get upset if you interrupt him too much. Every time he does it with the same enthusiasm. Distracting him doesn’t work, he seems to enjoy the game too much to agree to play anything else.I am on a holiday and hence all routines have flown out of the window. His grandmother will go to any extent to stop him from crying.Yesterday he played this game for 2 hours with her.I would never had endured that game for so long!! Last week we had some guests over and he started to play another repetitive game. He would start the phone ringer, run to the couch and say “Ah the phone is ringing”.He would look at me or his dad. We need to say “oh yes, pick it up”. If we don’t respond, he will keep saying “The phone is ringing” and try to get our attention. Then he picks the phone, says Hi, See you, bye and hangs up. Then he presses the ringer again, walks to the couch and the sequence repeats. He didn’t interact with the guests. Am not sure if he could even hear them talk to him. I tried to interrupt him a couple of times but he was resistant. I told him to reply to what his uncle is asking him and then continue his game. He started to scream. His aba therapist used to do it that way, but now with a month long break and his grandparents pampering him, he wouldn’t comply. We had a rule “last 2 times”, “last time” and “all done”. His grandparents didn’t follow any rules that we had worked on and so now they no longer work. How could I stop him from playing such repetitive games for hours together? Do your children engage in such games?

by on Jan. 16, 2014 at 4:35 AM
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Replies (1-10):
darbyakeep45
by Darby on Jan. 16, 2014 at 4:58 AM

My son doesn't do any pretend play games like what you are describing, so I don't have any advice but wanted to wish you the best!

JTMOM422
by Platinum Member on Jan. 16, 2014 at 11:47 AM

First off when our kiddos routines are changed they change. When my son was on winter break he had more meltdowns and refusals to everything. I thought for sure he would relapse back into no speaking and not pottying but it didn't go that far thank goodness.

You really need to speak to your parent's or inlaws about having things be a certain way with him. I know that they are thinking they are helping but in essence they are hindering him. He needs routines and if you use to do the countdown to how many times things could be played out then that has to go back into effect.

My son has this thing for numbers and letters. He will position them in an order that he likes. We make sure that we interrupt his play. We change it up like stacking them or putting them into different piles. He would get upset and throw them. We made him pick them up and when he did and put them back into his way we would interrupt again. I know that sounds mean but he can now play with the same toys as other kids playing with them. 

I would keep trying to change up the scenario of the play with your son. I would make sure that he understood that you want to play but you want to do your own thing. each time he does the scene change it. Try to make the change exciting and fun and hopefully he will eventually allow the game to be played in any way

Jenibob
by Bronze Member on Jan. 16, 2014 at 7:05 PM
1 mom liked this

Dont give up on the number of times the game can be played, setting the limit and sticking to it. Maybe even have a chart and cross off each time you play as a visual. 

jowen905
by Jan on Jan. 16, 2014 at 7:24 PM

 My 12 year old had similar repetitive games when he was little, and he still has some "games" he repeats, like throwing stuffed animals in a certain way, all around the room, re-enacting the Wipeout TV game.  I feel he needs to be able to do this, as his way of decompressing from the day.  However, he knows that these are things he can do at home, not at school, etc.  And when he seems to be engaged in something for too long, I'll tell him he can do it one more time, and then be finished.  He always willingly stops.  When he was younger, he would get upset about having to stop, but as you well know, it could go on for hours and hours if we let it.  I would just (try to) remain calm and tell him to put his balls away or his hot wheels, or whatever he was maneuvering around the house.  If he didn't I would pick up the items myself, lead him to his room and tell him when he was finished being upset, he could come out.  And then I would just have to turn a deaf ear!  After my doing that repeatedly, he stopped getting upset and would just do what I asked him to do....and I'd thank him for listening so well.  Wish you luck!

MissTacoBell
by Bronze Member on Jan. 16, 2014 at 7:30 PM
I know its hard, but don't take your cue. Let him repeat "the phone is ringing" as long as it takes for him to switch gears. Ds will repeat "what's the matter" to entice me to repeat him so he can suggest what I just told him to do so it becomes his idea if that makes sense. I need to break him of the loop and dependency on script dialogue so sometimes he will saying 20 times before giving up and doing as he's asked.

I let ds repeat parts of a DVD a few times but when I take back the remote he knows it's over.
MomOfOneCoolKid
by Gold Member on Jan. 16, 2014 at 7:30 PM

1) With my ds, when its time to transition, using timers, "last two times" is def the way to go. DS has gotten un-trained for a bit, but I was able to retrain him. I just followed through and took the toy away or the place. I would pick him up, gently, and move him. He'd tantrum the first four times, but then he would comply. As soon as he moved (even if it was me moving him) I gave him lots of praise and maybe even a prize.

2) There are times when I actually join him, like your grandma. This really helps to build relationships. Check this out:

Simran81
by Silver Member on Jan. 18, 2014 at 2:01 PM

Thanks. My son has gone to no potty. Its very hard for me to make my mother understand. My son will definitely cry and fuss when anything is done different from what he wants. She wont let him cry. So i cant enforce any rules. With one week to go, ill try getting things in order when i m back home.

Quoting JTMOM422:

First off when our kiddos routines are changed they change. When my son was on winter break he had more meltdowns and refusals to everything. I thought for sure he would relapse back into no speaking and not pottying but it didn't go that far thank goodness.

You really need to speak to your parent's or inlaws about having things be a certain way with him. I know that they are thinking they are helping but in essence they are hindering him. He needs routines and if you use to do the countdown to how many times things could be played out then that has to go back into effect.

My son has this thing for numbers and letters. He will position them in an order that he likes. We make sure that we interrupt his play. We change it up like stacking them or putting them into different piles. He would get upset and throw them. We made him pick them up and when he did and put them back into his way we would interrupt again. I know that sounds mean but he can now play with the same toys as other kids playing with them. 

I would keep trying to change up the scenario of the play with your son. I would make sure that he understood that you want to play but you want to do your own thing. each time he does the scene change it. Try to make the change exciting and fun and hopefully he will eventually allow the game to be played in any way


Simran81
by Silver Member on Jan. 18, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Yes exactly, it can go on for hours, i will try to stop it after my vacation. Thanks for the advice.

Quoting jowen905:

 My 12 year old had similar repetitive games when he was little, and he still has some "games" he repeats, like throwing stuffed animals in a certain way, all around the room, re-enacting the Wipeout TV game.  I feel he needs to be able to do this, as his way of decompressing from the day.  However, he knows that these are things he can do at home, not at school, etc.  And when he seems to be engaged in something for too long, I'll tell him he can do it one more time, and then be finished.  He always willingly stops.  When he was younger, he would get upset about having to stop, but as you well know, it could go on for hours and hours if we let it.  I would just (try to) remain calm and tell him to put his balls away or his hot wheels, or whatever he was maneuvering around the house.  If he didn't I would pick up the items myself, lead him to his room and tell him when he was finished being upset, he could come out.  And then I would just have to turn a deaf ear!  After my doing that repeatedly, he stopped getting upset and would just do what I asked him to do....and I'd thank him for listening so well.  Wish you luck!


Simran81
by Silver Member on Jan. 18, 2014 at 2:18 PM
1 mom liked this

Thanks. I join him too, but i dont encourage doing the same thing over and over again. I can see that he in partly zoned out while playing the game. He hears what he wants to hear. Grandma sat there for 2 hours, just cause he would cry if she got up. The prize idea is good, will try that. I will check the video later, thanks!

Quoting MomOfOneCoolKid:

1) With my ds, when its time to transition, using timers, "last two times" is def the way to go. DS has gotten un-trained for a bit, but I was able to retrain him. I just followed through and took the toy away or the place. I would pick him up, gently, and move him. He'd tantrum the first four times, but then he would comply. As soon as he moved (even if it was me moving him) I gave him lots of praise and maybe even a prize.

2) There are times when I actually join him, like your grandma. This really helps to build relationships. Check this out:


Simran81
by Silver Member on Jan. 18, 2014 at 2:19 PM
1 mom liked this

Its sweet of you to reply to every post. Thank you.

Quoting darbyakeep45:

My son doesn't do any pretend play games like what you are describing, so I don't have any advice but wanted to wish you the best!


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