The Toddler Monkey-See-Monkey-Do Stage

ByJayne Heinrich
The Naptown Organizer
Feb 2017
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Photo: Corbis

“Please don’t put your fork in your eye!”

No, seriously, I actually said that this week, to both my husband and my son… Yep. My husband was sitting at the dinner table playing peekaboo with our 20 month old toddler, hiding his eyes behind his fork. It was a fun game, until our son decided he’d like to play, and started pressing his fork into his eyes. Thankfully, he was eating with a plastic toddler fork, and we were able to quickly redirect his attention to something else. But, we’re there — in the toddler monkey see, monkey do stage.

As a newborn and infant, while you know your child is watching you, I think a lot of parents continue to act like they would relaxing at home, maybe a bit less socially appropriate or child appropriate than you would be in public.

I know personally that I have a penchant for rap music and as in the past my son was still too small to understand, there were certainly a few times when I had an inappropriate song playing where he was able to hear. When they are so little, you relax a little and some let loose the occasional — or not so occasional — swear word at times. I found myself thinking that as a little baby he didn’t understand yet, and I’d change my habits when he did begin to get it.

Now he gets it.

It’s a whole different stage of parenting when your child now imitates everything that you do in public and in private. While it is 100 percent part of the learning process, and how they learn to interact with their environment, as a parent, you need to be on your best behavior. At all times. Which is sort of exhausting.

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Not only do you have to put your completely socially appropriate self forward while in social situations to teach your child acceptable pragmatic skills, now you have to continue that at home when your child is watching. It makes me tired just thinking about it.

I know that there will be certainly some slip-ups on my and my husband’s part in the future, because really, who can be perfect all of the time? But hopefully we’ll teach our son to keep his fork out of his eyes… and other social graces.

What’s the funniest thing your child has done to imitate you?

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