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It’s not strange to catch a toddler lining things up on the basis of shape, color, or size and being consumed in that activity. Parents, especially first timers, can see this as OCD. However, chances are your child is just learning and is completely normal.
From the age of 12 to 13 months, toddlers tend to become obsessed with ordering, stacking, or lining things. They line their toy cars, stack their blocks on top of each other, or sort their stuff toys from the dolls. It’s an important cognitive task that involves fine and gross motor skills, a recommended activity and even a milestone for toddlers.
How to Handle Toddlers Obsessed with Organising Things
1. Why do children sort, stack, or line their toys?
Organising and sorting is a toddler’s way of processing their surroundings and learning about their environment. Noticing the similarities and differences between objects and learning how to group them is a very important cognitive task. These activities are empowering rather than debilitating. For example, a child may classify a cookie as a round shape or as a food. It’s good to give your child such activities so she can learn about different categories of things. A shape-sorter is an ideal gift for toddlers to help them with these stacking and sorting activities. ||
2. Why do they do it repeatedly?
The constant sorting, arranging and the movement of hands may seem like your toddler is obsessed with organising things, but a child first needs to do things with her hands before she can do the same with her brain. These activities are actually a sign of a very active and healthy mind. It’s completely normal and a positive experience. It’s with these activities that a toddler learns how to differentiate between different objects, maybe on the basis of their size, shape, or colour. Toddlers tend to get caught up in any new activity, and they tend to keep doing it over and over again, till they get good at it. They usually grow out of the obsessing stage by the age of 4-5 yrs.
3. When should you start to worry?
When this organisational behaviour starts to interfere with other normal routine activities, then you can worry about your child having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder(OCD). For example, a child with OCD will not step out of the house without having completed a complicated series of tasks, or she may need to shut the door a certain number of times. Such a child uses her organising compulsions to keep the world and the fears associated with it at bay. However, OCD is very rare in children. If this organising behaviour occurs with other concerning issues such as delayed speech, poor eye contact, or lack of bonding, it’s best to consult a medical practitioner to rule out any disorder.
The act of organising and arranging generally is a child’s way of processing their environment and the world around them. It in no way signifies a problem in most cases. Stay positive and be supportive of whatever your child does and soon you’ll be able to handle this behaviour as normal.