We’ve all heard stories about children repeating private conversations in the wrong company or saying bad words seemingly out of nowhere. However, did you know that even before children begin mimicking our words they imitate our actions?
One of the ways that children learn how to communicate is by mimicking what they see and hear around them. Before your little one starts sounding out words, you will notice her imitating your actions. It might be in the form of clapping when you clap or “brushing” her hair when you do. While this stage is certainly cute as can be, it is also a big step in their ability to communicate!
Motor Imitation in children
Motor Imitation serves two main functions. It enables children to acquire new skills and knowledge AND it improves a child’s ability to engage in social and emotional exchanges with others.* Motor imitation also provides a measure of their awareness of and their ability to interact with the world around them.
Developing motor imitation skills is a lot of fun, so get creative! Here are a few of my favorite ways to play the imitation game with children:
Push a toy car
Tickle your child
Pretend to snore
Jump up and down
Pretend to sneeze
Yawn in an exaggerated way
Play Peek a Boo or So Big
Remember to include verbal cues as you play with your child. For example, knock on a door and say, “Knock knock!”
This stage can be so much fun as your child learns new ways to communicate and interact with you and with those around them. So go be silly and enjoy watching your little one mimic you!
* SOURCE: Brooke Ingersoll, PhD. “The Social Role of Imitation in Autism Implications for the Treatment of Imitation Deficits.” Infants & Young Children Vol. 21, No. 2 (pp. 107–119). Copyright 2008. Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
MaryFrances Gonzalez is the director of TeachSpeech LLC and a certified speech language pathologist. Using a holistic approach through playful learning, she helps children build a strong foundation for learning one word at a time. If you have any questions about your child’s speech or language skills, contact us today to set up a free next steps call!