I'm looking for some advice. My daughter has just turned 5 and from her being very young she has always known how she wants things and what she likes and dislikes. She's been repeating the same sentences in the same tone over and over, singing the same songs many times, putting certain toys in specific toy boxes or sitting in a certain chair to eat and having tantrums if things aren't done her way.

I used to think that behavior was normal but it's becoming progressively worse as she's getting older. For the last 3 months or so I've noticed she's become fixated on 2 certain numbers (89,000 & 189,000) and randomly puts the number into any sentence she can. An example would be if I said: "Do you want to wear this dress?" And she'd reply "Yes, it's been one hundred and eighty nine thousand days since I wore that dress!"; if she's coloring she will randomly say "what if I had eighty nine thousand crayons!"

She makes me say the same sentences over and over again. For example, if she says to me "do you know what animal I'm pretending to be?" Or "where have I put my shoes?" If I reply with anything other than a very animated "I don't know, what animal are you pretending to be/where have you put your shoes?" She says "no you have to say…" and tells me what I have to say and how I need to say it. If I repeat it, but not in the same tone or speed she used, she makes me say it again until she's satisfied. It's the same with other questions she asks, it's as though she's asking the question to answer herself but she needs me to say that in between her asking and answering.

I'm not going to lie - this is becoming really frustrating on top of other issues we've had to come to terms with in the past (behavioral problems, high energy levels, and an eating disorder). I'm concerned this might not just be a phase she's going through and would appreciate any advice from others who have experienced this kind of behavior.

  • Have you asked your child's doctor or teachers what they think is going on?
    – WRX
    Mar 3, 2017 at 18:52
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    Ive had parents meeting with her teacher they say she's very bright and they don't think there are any issues to worry about, she has regular visits with a paediatrician who has mentioned ADHD & autism but so far has no actual answers, due to a problem with her last appointment (clinic cancelled and rearranged) she hasn't been for 3months next appointment isn't until April, she has a therapist though this hasn't been helpful, the outcome of that was being told her unusual behaviour is just her coping mechanism if it isn't dangerous then let her be, don't really know what to listen to anymore
    – L90
    Mar 3, 2017 at 19:39
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    I was a special ed teacher for 30 years. I don't think we can give you much help until there is or is not a medical diagnosis. I'd hesitate to give you ideas until we know better what is going on. I'd listen to the therapist until you have something more concrete to go on. IF there is something specific we can help you with, I'll hope you return. It truly could be a phase! I doubt it would do actual harm to refuse to do as she asks, other than any tantrum it might start. I also think it does not harm to go along until you know more.
    – WRX
    Mar 3, 2017 at 19:49

1 Answer 1


Unless your daughter's doctor thinks something is wrong (you have gone to see the doctor if you are concerned this is a medical thing, right?) I wouldn't worry about it.

The fact that your daughter is fixated on two numbers doesn't seem like anything out of norm to me. People (probably yourself included) have certain go-to words to express certain sentiments. For example, when I am exaggerating about the quantity of something, my go-to number is "a bajillion". Nothing is really wrong with that, it's just a speech pattern / habit I have. This might be your daughter's. If you listen to yourself carefully (or ask close friends / family) you will see you probably have your own patterns.

As far as trying to get you to respond in a certain way to her questions, that seems perfectly normal too. I have a 5 year old niece who does some similar things. She will ask me questions and then want me to have a certain response, usually excitement over something. I think that's just partly her imagination, partly wanting some control over her world and partly just learning. It seems like she's imagined some scenario in her head (like, imagining how mommy will react when I tell her about how well I did at school today) and then she wants to act that out as she imagined it. It lets her learn skills like predicting outcomes.

It also lets her engage you and bring you into her world on her terms too. Being 5, she doesn't have control over a whole lot. This lets her learn some of that with people she is comfortable with. It's kind of like when kids play "house" and do a role reversal with their parents, where mommy and daddy are now the "kids".

I'm no medical expert / child psychologist, but this seems perfectly normal to me. If you are worried, consult professionals.

  • 5
    While taken alone, I would follow this advice, I see something a bit different: it's been long-standing, the child has tactile defensiveness, had an eating disorder (more "overly-sensitive" symptoms), repetitive behavior, and a number of other concerning behaviors. Taken alone or in pairs, ok, but all together, to me this begs to be tested by a professional behaviorist, which (I hope) the OP is planning to do. If there is a problem, early intervention is better than late. (I did note your first sentence, btw.) :) Mar 3, 2017 at 21:08
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    @anongoodnurse Agreed, but according to the OP's comments above, it sounds like so far the professionals don't have an answer. If they don't see anything wrong, then this behavior seems normal. If they find something, then that changes the question entirely (or makes it a moot point).
    – Becuzz
    Mar 3, 2017 at 21:12
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    Well, she sees a therapist (what kind?), which is good, but not all therapists are qualified to diagnose psychiatric conditions. Other than that, I didn't catch results of actual testing done. I'm not challenging you. really. Just adding an extra note of precaution lest the OP finds your answer comforting. Mar 3, 2017 at 21:15
  • it was my GP who I first told about my concerns about my daughters behaviour and eating habits, at first she said my daughter was attention seeking and sent us on our way I went back insisting it wasn't attention seeking and she gave my daughter iron supplements for anemia even though she had multiple blood test a come back she wasn't anaemic and referred us to a the paediatrician who later diagnosed her with Pica and also that she wanted to see what if my daughters behaviour changed when she was in school and a different setting with different people…
    – L90
    Mar 3, 2017 at 21:59
  • As far as the behaviour and eating habits went I was given info on parenting courses to try and slhelp me stop/change unwanted behaviour, my daughters seen an occupational therapist whose concluded my daughter moves, chews and makes noises as a coping mechanism and that in her opinion she doesn't have an eating disorder and i shouldn't try stop what she does just make it safe for her, it's opposite opinions on what I should/shouldn't do wanted to know if anyone else has had a similar experience and what they did
    – L90
    Mar 3, 2017 at 22:15

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