A baby’s ability to imitate marks a major milestone in his/her growth. Imitation is a very powerful tool for learning and mastering skills . They are very good imitators and research proves that it's not a skill that they develop over a period of time, but an ability they are born with.
An infants’ ability to imitate their parents or their caregiver starts at a very young age and leaves an ever lasting impression on their mind. I am sure you would remember your baby trying to imitate the sounds that you make with your mouth. This happens as early as when they are 2 or 3 months old. Your baby will get influenced by the behaviour of the person with whom she spends more time. Both positive and negative behaviour will get stored in their mind and will be imitated immediately or at a later point in time.
Since imitation is a powerful form of learning during the critical developmental phase, it is important that you model your behaviour appropriately.
- Toddlers love imitating their parents engaged in household activities like sweeping and cleaning the floor. Involve them in your daily household tasks(laundry, cleaning, arranging toy baskets etc). It will keep them engaged and they learn to do their daily chores by themselves.
- Parent modelling and imitation is very important. If you want your kids to model good behaviours, you have to practice it on a regular basis. One example would be, avoid reading or watching TV while eating food and sit in a dining table to have food.
- Illustrate the habit that you want to see in your child. If you want your little ones to be a good reader, start reading books often and model that behaviour.
- Illustrate some basic manners that you want to see in your child. Like saying "Thank you" and "Please". It will take some time, but, they will eventually imitate.
Parents, you are under constant and close surveillance. Between ages 2 and 3 is when toddlers realise they are different individuals from their parents or caregivers. This is the stage when they have the drive to act independently, learn all about themselves. Be a good role model and adopt positive behaviours. Your behaviour presents powerful lesson for your child and leaves an everlasting impression in their mind. It is easy to bring up good individuals rather than repairing one!
"Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them” -James Baldwin. Happy parenting!