Do you ever have a day (or days) when you just feel like you’ve done nothing right as a parent? We all have. We all mess up. Today’s post is for you.
Or maybe you’ve been wondering whether your efforts at talking to your kids about your values and actively modelling kindness, empathy, and respect are making an impact at all on them? Trust me. They are. This post is for you too!
This is a friendly reminder of the powerful influence that we have on our kids – for good, for bad, and in this case…for funny! When kids imitate parents, the results can be hilarious (even if only on later reflection.)
Check out these stories and I hope they make you smile, make you feel less alone, and make you feel like it’s okay if we make some mistakes!
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Please see Disclosure for full details.
Starting at birth, kids are wired to learn from imitation. Did you ever try sticking your tongue out at your newborn and witness him/her sticking theirs back at you?
As they grow, their ability to imitate develops also. In toddlerhood, you will see them imitating actions and roles (changing diapers of dolls and playing with toys like toy vacuums and lawnmowers). This kind of imitation allows them to practise the skills of daily living and eventually to try on gender roles.
As they learn to speak, they not only learn words through imitation, but also common expressions.
My son has been known to shout out, “What the heck!” (one of my favourite expressions) at inappropriate and highly embarrassing times! Somehow it doesn’t seem that much better than “hell” when coming out of a 3 year old’s mouth…
Kids are also learning social skills by imitation.
How we deal with frustration, stress and anger also start to be absorbed and mimicked. A friend’s child who started grunting, “Grrrr” when he was angry was imitating his mother’s responses (which she didn’t even realize she was doing until he started doing this!). Gives you incentive to start dealing with things in a more positive way yourself – doesn’t it?
And we can’t blame the kids! It’s how nature designed them to learn much of what they need to know to survive and thrive.
Unfortunately, because it happens all the time, it’s all too easy to forget how much our kids are learning in this way…until every now and then they’ll do or say something that really surprises us and makes us realize what little sponges they are!
I’ve gathered some stories today from friends with kids, of times that their kids imitated them – for good, for bad, or for funny! I hope you enjoy reading these. I know I did!
The Good and the Funny
“After I apparently said it one time too often, and my daughter did not want to do the activity (and I can’t remember exactly what it was), she turned to me and said, “That is NOT appropriate for children. I am not doing it.” ~Ticia from Adventures in Mommydom
“My youngest daughter likes to discipline her older brother and sister! She knows how we usually count down as a warning before time outs up in their room. One day at the table loud and clear at age 2 she said to her older brother, “Eat your food…10..9..8..7..6..5..4,3,2,1,0…..OK… up to your room!” and she points upstairs! Needless to say we could not stop laughing! Because of listening to us, my daughter could count backwards before she could count forwards. LOL!” ~Heather, mother of 4
“My husband compliments every meal I make regardless of its merit. “Thanks Mummy, this looks/tastes delicious.” Miss 4 has begun copying him saying “Wow, thanks Mummy. This is delicious!” before she has even tried her meal. She then takes a big mouthful and realizes she doesn’t actually like it and tries to subtly spit it back onto her plate. So cute and funny.” ~Kate from Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids
Role models really matter. It’s hard to imagine yourself as something you don’t see. ~Chelsea Clinton
“When my daughter was a toddler, we were having problems with our dog being aggressive. I knew my frustration had reached its max when one day she stomped her feet, and said, quite emphatically, “DAMN DOG!!!” Out of the mouths of babes!” ~Virginia, mother of 2
“One day I was at the book store flipping through books, my husband was occupying my daughter (I thought) when he later showed me this picture, she was standing just like me, flipping through a book. I had never seen her do that before!” ~Stephanie, mom of 2“The sweetest thing that my little boy (3 1/2) does is to take care of his little sister (15 months). He hears the way that we speak to her when she’s crying and then he’ll say things like ‘It’s ok my sweetie pie’ and try to give her a cuddle. It’s just so adorable, and of course she’s so smitten with him that she is often comforted by this simple gesture from him.” ~Niki from Play & Learn Everyday
“When my daughter was just close to two years old she was sitting on the couch with me. My second child was just a newer baby, probably a few weeks old, and while we were sitting watching Barney, I was nursing him. My daughter had her stuffies and doll sitting around her while she watched her show, and when I looked over at her at one point, I noticed she was holding her doll so she could nurse it too. The funnier part was the look on her face as if this was just an everyday thing to do! I guess it was! It took everything I had not to laugh because it was so cute!” ~Christine, mother of 5
“I have no recollection of teaching my son the security password for the iPad or even how to turn it on, but one day I found him sitting on the floor playing this Tetris game all by himself!” ~Sue, One Time Through
“When my son was just barely a toddler, we went through a phase where we talked about being brave like Daniel (in the lions’ den) and David (when he faced Goliath). It was more of a communication tool “Be so brave, sweetie” for times when he was fearful or worried… to help him in those new or scary situations. One time his friend tripped and fell, hurting himself. Toby was immediately there to see if he was ok. I heard him comforting his friend, “It’s ok, E___, be so brave.” ~Betsy from BPhotoArt
“Sometimes my son (age 2) will put himself in timeout (makes my job easier, LOL!). I can hear him saying to himself, “No throwing toys, 1, 2, 3- Timeout.” Then he will go and sit in timeout.” ~Katie from A Little Pinch of Perfect
“I put my son in the car when he was about 2 1/2 – 3 years old. It was raining and suddenly out of nowhere he started saying “Fricken rain, fricken rain, fricken rain!” over and over! I was so alarmed I just laughed! Don’t judge me!” ~Rachel, mom of 2
The Bad (and embarrassing!)
I’m not exempt from admitting that my son has imitated my husband’s and my “less than desirable behaviours.”
In the post 10 Times to Teach Politeness, I wrote about a time when my son was at an early years drop in centre and was driving a play car and shouted “Get out of my way, idiot!” at some other children.
It sure was a wake up call for my husband who used to get rather verbally irritated while driving, and has since changed his ways (at least when Onetime is in the car!)
I’ve also heard my son imitate my less than polite phrases when I’m angry or frustrated. (Not worth repeating here, but I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience!)
The most embarrassing time my 2 1/2 year old son imitated me was the day I was making breakfast while he was “playing” with my cell phone. Every now and then I would give it to him to entertain himself for a minute.
Unfortunately, little did I know that he had watched me put in the security code and knew how to actually dial and press “Send”! When I suddenly heard the operator of 911 talking at the other end of the line, I knew I had underestimated his ability to watch and learn.
I did have to take responsibility for this one though – we HAD after all been recently reading about calling 911 in a fire fighting book (as I explained to the police officer who had to visit our house after my son’s call!)
It’s a big responsibility knowing how much we are influencing our kids – even when we’re not consciously trying to.
I hope today’s stories have reminded you of how important you are in positively modelling behaviours for your kids. And have made you realize that we all mess up sometimes too!
I think just by being AWARE of the influence we are having can make us much stronger parents.
I’m going to leave you with a video called “Children See, Children Do” that makes a huge impression on me every time I watch it. It’s worth the minute and a half. Trust me.
Striving to be models worthy of imitation (with renewed resolve rather than guilt) is the hardest and the most valuable work of parents, and it has the most benefit for our children. ~Rahima Baldwin Dancy, Midwife, Author, and Parent Educator
I hope you enjoyed reading today’s Positive Parenting: An Alphabetic Series post. Our topic was M is for Modelling.
If you are not yet a subscriber, I’d love to have you join the more than 1000 parents who receive our newsletter! Just add your e-mail to the box below!
Please Pin me!