Why you should imitate your child

mom imitating child
A mother playing blocks with her child.

Should we imitate our child?

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  (Oscar Wilde)

This is what we were told, but in everyday life it rankled.

  • The sister that copied your fashion choices.
  • The annoying kid that repeated what you said.
  • The smothering friend who wanted to do everything you did.

Yet there is tremendous power in being the leader.

How often does your little one get to call the shots?

Toddlers and preschoolers don’t usually get to give a lot of input in their day—and aside from strategic choices (more on this later), they need the structure we provide them. Which is why “no” is such a powerful and favored word.

Let them direct the play.

We look at a toy and know instinctively how to use it. Don’t we? But play is a “fun activity,” so play might be very different to you than it is to me. You might like to drive cars on a play mat road. I prefer to have cars fly or to arrange them in sets or a line.

If you have a child that doesn’t use words (or uses very few), let them direct the action.* Try and spend 5-10 min imitating what they do. Line up the cars, make the same sounds. See their reaction to being the leader.

The critical skills we build here are:

  • Joint attention
  • Understanding cause/effect
  • Empathy and bonding
  • Confidence

And we lay a foundation we can use to build their language. Give it a try!

Drop a comment below and let me know what kind of reaction you got. Did they stay with an activity longer? Attend to you more? Do you think they felt happy or excited?

*if you have a child that is engaging in dangerous or destructive behavior, please don’t imitate!

imitate your child to improve language skills
Imitating your child helps develop their language skills.




The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.