The art of toddler imitation

By Melissa Grant

“Daddy, poo!”

Don’t worry, this is not a column about toilet training or toddlers soiling themselves (although as a parent I find myself talking about number twos way too much).

When my two-year-old daughter Emmy yelled out “Daddy, poo” last week she actually wanted my husband to pick up our dog’s poop. She made the request as she sprinted towards him with the pooper scooper in hand.

She had seen my husband scoop up the poop so many times that she knew what had to be done. It’s great she’s aware of the land mines lurking in the yard In fact, I can proudly say that she is yet to step in a pile of doggy doo!

Our daughter also enjoys feeding the dog. Quite often she will go to the cupboard to get out a dog treat (somehow she manages to get the bag open) and then proceeds to the door saying “doggy”. Sometimes she will put the treat near her mouth, before moving it away and laughing as if to say “as if mum – it’s only for doggies!”

A few nights after the pooper scooper incident, my daughter came over to the couch and said “daddy, horses”. Yep, she wanted to watch the racing channel! My husband works in the racing industry and often has to watch the racing channel. Anyway, I thought it was kind of cute until she started yelling “go, go, go” as the field entered the home straight.

It then occurred to me that my daughter had perfected the art of imitation. It’s now very much the case of toddler see, toddler do. Perhaps, I thought, we need to be more mindful of what we do and say in her presence.

Research shows imitation is an important part of childhood development and that it should be treated as an opportunity to teach your little one something new.

Then I realised she had seen me vacuum the floor so many times … perhaps she could imitate me there? Hmmmm, probably wishful thinking!

It’s funny what young kids pick up from their parents.

I remember my mum telling me that when I was in preschool I locked my dad in his beloved bird aviary and gave him a hosing down – literally.

I’d seen him hose out the aviary so many times, so thought I’d help him out that day. The funniest thing was I had locked the door shut so he couldn’t get away.

I’m sure I won’t get a hosing down from daughter soon. But I’m somewhat worried about bad phrases flooding her vocabulary as the other day she said something I can’t even bring myself to repeat.

From now on I’ll be choosing both my words and actions very wisely!