The act of copying is the very first learning tool that children use. A baby will copy their parent’s or older sibling’s mouth movements to learn how to speak. Their walking movements to learn how to walk. Their hand movements to learn how to complete a particular task or action.
We find it cute when a baby or child copies something we do and praise them for it. But somewhere along the line, we need to be aware that sometimes our children are copying something that we don’t want them to be. It might not be obvious straight away because we parents tend ignore most of their play as white noise. The exception being when siblings or friends fight.
But sometimes, we should actively pay attention to how our children are playing. Because most of the games they play are developed from the experiences that they have. So, if we as a parent yell a lot, then the child will yell a lot in play. If we swear, then the children will probably do that to.
One of the most telling games that children play are families. One will be the mum, one will be the dad and if there is a 3rd then they are usually the baby or child. If there isn’t a 3rd child, they substitute with a toy. You can learn a lot about your parenting style and even the relationship between yourself and your partner simply by watching this game. Some of it may make you want to cringe and rethink your parenting style.
Two of the things that I’ve been noticing from my children lately is my habit of yelling and swearing. Both are something I have been working on since noticing this but it’s not easy. Both are a side effect of the anger I was experiencing from my postnatal depression and because I was feeling this way for a long time before I finally broke down and saw my doctor it became a hard to break habit. Unfortunately, it’s one that my children have picked up.
Celine is the one that picked up the yelling the most. Possibly, because as the oldest she ends up in the role of surrogate mother to her younger siblings when I am busy with something like feeding Bella or cooking dinner. I’m not really sure how to address this situation other than to lead by example and not yell as much. It’s something I am working on.
Blake is the child who picked up on my swearing habit. Swearing for me generally happens when I am extremely upset or angry. So because it is something I spent a lot of time doing before my diagnosis he’s picked it up. I am working on this two fold. Celine and I have worked out words to replace the swear words that I used previously with more harmless ones – fudge, sugar, baking soda. I am trying to make them stick in my own head to make it a habit instead of the actual words. The other thing I am doing is talking to Blake whenever I catch him saying a swear word and reminding him that they are adult words to use and not for children. Repetition is the key for this. Right now he thinks the words are funny and a big joke so the trick is to convince him otherwise.
It’s not all bad though. I love that my children have started copying my cleaning habits. Both Blake and Danielle love to help me carry down the rubbish bags or recycling bins when it’s pick up day. Blake loves to help with sweeping my kitchen and has recently learnt how to make his own breakfast and helps Danielle with hers.
What things do you find your children copying from you that you wish they didn’t? What things do your children copy from you that you love?