What Can Children Learn Through Imitation?

What will they imitate?

They imitate our words, our tone of voice, even our facial expressions. It can be frustrating when they copy the things we wish they wouldn't, but they'll imitate the good too. Just as they imitate kindness, they'll imitate other simple and good habits.  

20 Little Habits

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Case File: Parenting Ideas

Your Parenting Secret Mission:

Let the kids see you doing something you hope they will imitate.

Children are amazing imitators – the difficulty is that they are not always the best interpreters of what they see, so sometimes we need to slow down and consider what model we are giving them.  

For instance, I use digital media all the time – I write on a keyboard, and I adore the fact that my library offers digital books to check out – now that I can read on a phone screen that will light up I am back to reading lots and lots and LOTS again.

The thing is, my kids don't always realize that I'm doing something like reading a book or writing an article – it all looks the same.  Mama is sitting at a computer or with a phone.  I make a point to talk about what I do, but even more powerful than talking is what they see that they can imitate – like letting them see me write in a notebook or read a physical book.

What will they imitate

Here are some things children can learn through imitation:

  1. Reading a book
  2. Writing a journal, a letter or a thank you note
  3. Doing a craft you love. (It's not always easy with kids around, but do they see you taking care of yourself and nurturing your interests?)
  4. Playing an instrument, or listening to music you love.
  5. Carefully putting away an item you want to keep safe
  6. Taking a walk
  7. Taking time to stop and admire beauty – point it out
  8. Pausing to be grateful before you eat
  9. Trying new foods
  10. Talking with your elders – listening to grandparents or “adopted” grandparents with respect and interest
  11. Managing your frustration calmly when you can't find something
  12. Putting you dish right into the dishwasher
  13. Offering a guest a glass of water or other refreshment
  14. Talking about your family in a positive way
  15. Talking about your business or work in a positive way
  16. Being polite to cashiers, clerks and other service staff
  17. Finding the “silver lining” in annoying situations
  18. Pushing in your chair
  19. Laughing about getting rained on, splashed on or other slight mishaps
  20. Smiling often – this habit is inspired by the grin inducing chapter on “Mouth Yoga” in the book Momfulness (Amazon affiliate link) by Denise Roy. I appreciate her reminder that the simple act of smiling can make the difference between feeling stressed and feeling grateful.  Now that's something I want my kids to imitate.

What simple habit would you add to the list?

Today, consider a habit you'd love to see your kids pick up and let them see you do it.

Parenting Secret Missions are quick ideas for connecting with your kids, trying out a new parenting idea, finding gratitude amidst chaos, sparking conversation and finally, inspiring fun!  Don’t take them too seriously, read them with a spirit of adventure or experimenting and keep the mission in mind for the day if it strikes you.