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Fall in! Why does my 3 ½-year-old line up her toys?
Q: I have noticed that when my 3 ½-year-old daughter is playing with her toys, she lines them up in a straight line. Why is this? She does this with all of her toys.
Julie
A: I smiled when I read your question, Julie, because I did that as a little girl. If I didn't put them in a straight line, I put them in a circle. Also, I did it with toiletries on the dresser. And I didn't like it if someone moved them out of my neat arrangements. In truth, I don't know why I did it, and I don't know why your little girl does it. Around your daughter’s age, children begin to develop more of a sense of order and neatness, and it may relate to that. With me, I think I got a lot of attention for doing it; I can remember hearing my mother tell about it with some pride several years later: “Bettye Ruth always likes to put things in a neat circle” (in the south at that time, we all had double names). I don't seem to remember getting a lot of praise for neatness later, and I don't do it now! So it obviously went away on its own. Try saying nothing about it and see what happens.
Kathleen Alfano Ph.D., Former Director of Child Research at Fisher-Price®