Over the past few weeks I have heard parents say “I don’t know where he learned to say that” or “I don’t know how she learned to do that.” Children pick up on way more than we think, especially young children. Young children look to adults, especially parents-often because that is who they are around most often- to learn new things. When a child picks up a new word or phrase they are mimicking your language skills. Learning a routine of brushing your teeth, they are watching your actions to see how to do it. This mimicking behavior is all part of learning during early childhood and is an excellent way for children to grow in their social, language, and even emotional development. While we know it is a good thing for children to engage in this behavior, we need to keep some key points in mind:
Be a good role model: Children will copy the good, the bad, and the ugly, so make sure you are setting a positive example on habits, language, routines that will be positive to the child.
Keep safety in mind: As said, children will copy many of your behaviors regardless of if they understand the danger associated with it. For example if you are cooking a child may copy your action of getting something out of a hot oven, so keep a good eye on your copy cats!
Use a strategy: Sometimes it’s necessary to have strategies for mimicking that don’t hinder your everyday actions. If your child likes to take cards out of your wallet, get your child a wallet of their own with some of their own cards to practice with.
By copying actions of adults, young children are working on all aspects of their development. Mimicking is an important part of learning for children in order to learn language, routines, and skills that will set them up for success in the future. Just remember, if you have a young child, they are always watching you!