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For a toddler, imitation marks a major milestone. Acting just like you is a giant step toward learning all about himself. With his curly brown hair and sunny smile, my son resembled his dad from the moment he was born. But it wasn't until Judah was 14 months old that I truly started to think I was seeing double. My husband, Larry, had just come in from a run and was stretching in our entryway. In a flash, Judah was by his side, copying his father's every move: touching his toes, stretching toward the ceiling, even pushing against the wall with his scrawny toddler arms.
Larry and I cracked up, but our little boy took his workout seriously. From that point, Judah became a master imitator. Whenever I talked on the phone, he'd converse beside me. When Larry, watching the Giants on TV, pumped his arm in the air to cheer a touchdown, Judah would mimic his football frenzy.
Sometimes we'd grab the camcorder to preserve Judah's charming parodies, but imitation for toddlers is much more than a show. By copying adults during this crucial year of growth, 1-year-olds learn a vast array of skills.
Of course, not all children jump in and mimic their parents' every move. Kessler, M. Joseph's Hospital, in Phoenix.
Often little boys copy their fathers, and little girls model their mothers. But many parents see their sons trying on Mom's lipstick or their daughters "shaving" with Daddy. Nalven says. But age 1 marks the beginning of true imitation, or imitation with intent.
What's more, by 15 months, most toddlers have developed the motor and cognitive skills necessary to carry out the action to be imitated. Children this age are usually mobile and have some hand-eye coordination. What drives toddler imitation? In part, it's the instant connection that mimicry creates between parent and. Take Judah flexing his biceps. The attention little imitators receive for their efforts also encourages these performances.
When month-old Noa donned her mother's yellow beret and toddled out of the room, her mom cheered and got excited, "so Noa repeated her performance, and we both laughed," recalls Miriam Bloom, of Cambridge, Massachusetts. I can do this! Aren't I great? I'll try it again," Dr. Kessler says. For 1-year-olds, imitation follows a four-step process: watching and listening, processing the information, attempting to copy a behavior, and practicing.
Language development offers an example. When 1-year-olds form simple words like baba, they're really imitating the sounds they hear around them. Over time, after countless repetitions, they process this information. Klein says. Then they keep practicing until they can use the word in context. Among the actions toddlers most love to imitate are household activities, such as sweeping the floor. You'll also find 1-year-olds grooming themselves, for instance, brushing their teeth or hair when their parents do.
When your little shadow plays at being you, whatever she imitates she learns. So keep these points in mind:. By Chana Stiefel October 05, Save Pin FB More. What Your Child Learns By Imitating You With his curly brown hair and sunny smile, my son Brush Valley age or single mom his dad from the moment he was born. Be a good role model. Make safety your top priority. At 15 months, Judah's sister, Abby, mimicked me baking. While my back was turned, Abby, now 2, pulled open a hot oven door. Luckily, I caught her before she was hurt.
Because toddlers have no sense of judgment, experts stress prevention. If you haven't already thoroughly childproofed your home, now is the time to do so. Distract when necessary. Sometimes it's frustrating having a little imitator around, especially when she makes a mess. At 18 months, Abby loved taking my credit cards out of my wallet -- something she had seen me do many times. To keep the contents of my wallet intact, I filled an old billfold with family photos and outdated credit cards.
Immediately, Abby began practicing some shopping skills that I hope she won't apply for years to come. Parents Magazine. By Chana Stiefel. Be the first to comment! Close this dialog window Add a comment. Add your comment Cancel Submit. Back to story Comment on this project. Tell us what you think Thanks for adding your feedback.
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What Your Child Learns By Imitating You