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Toddler Talk: Little Copycats

“Hehwo,” said my 18-month nephew, holding a pretend phone up to his ear. He listened intently to the phone and said again louder, “Hehwo!” Then he proceeded to “drive” in his play car for a few feet. While he was driving, he continued to chatter on the play phone.

It was so cute that he was imitating adult behavior … but were we setting him up for a lifetime of unsafe driving behaviors? Do they make pretend Bluetooth headsets?

Most kids love to ride on moving vehicles. While it takes time for children to learn how to propel themselves, they can learn a lot from just getting in and out of play cars. When a child is able to open doors, figure out how to sit forward, turn steering wheels, push buttons and move around without the help of others, he is establishing independence and developing important motor skills.

The toddler years are ones where kids explore being able to control things around them (including us!) and express their ability to do things on their own. They should be imitating adults around them and engaging in pretend play by eighteen months of age.

It is important to remember that we are our children’s primary role models. Luckily, we have years to instill good habits before we release our kids into the big world on their own. However, they are learning from our behaviors constantly, starting on day one. A parent only has to hear a four-year old scolding a friend to know that absolutely every word you’ve said to your child has been heard, been stored, and will come back to haunt you at a later date!

“Mommy, you need to eat your vegetables,” said my four-year old son to me when I left some unappetizing brussel sprouts on my plate. “Otherwise you won’t be healthy, right?”

“Right,” I said, trying not to gag as I ate the remaining veggies on my plate, making a mental note never to make them again.

Kids provide the best motivation for improving our own habits, don’t you think?

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