Your children are paying attention. You may not think so but they are. It may not seem like they are listening to you since they continue to do the things you constantly tell them not to do, but they are listening and they are watching your every move. Mark my words.
When I became a parent, I knew that there would come a time when I would have to tone down my language. This was obvious and it is not that I was a big swearer but I think we can all agree that certain words and phrases are inappropriate and not nice for young children to say.
I knew before becoming a mom that children will repeat what they hear. A friend’s child once said “shit” after hearing me say it. That was embarrassing. I guess I just never realized that kids not only repeat what they hear but they also copy what they see and they hear and see almost everything because they are seemingly always paying attention, even when you think that they are not.
It’s incredible really. My three and a half year old has been copying my behaviors and repeating me for a while. The amazing (humiliating) part is that not only will she repeat WHAT I said, but she imitates HOW it was said. In other words, if I had an attitude, she repeats my words with an attitude. I learned the hard way that little kids can remember what you said and how you said it and then regurgitate your words in the correct context with just as much sass as you used during your initial utterance. My husband gets a kick out of this telling me that our daughter is like a little mirror and there is no denying my behavior with her around. Uh oh, my own child, a true reflection of me…this could be bad although sometimes it is cute.
Over the last year, I have witnessed my older daughter reprimand my youngest daughter in my “madder than hell wicked stepmother-like” voice (that’s the best way to describe it) on more than one occasion. And yes, she has made her younger sister cry because she sounds so mean! I think to myself, “oh my goodness, do I really do that?” It’s very telling. I have also seen both of my girls SHOUT at the dog to get out of the way or to get on his bed (sorry Scooby!).
Before you start to think that I am some kind of cranky mommy villain, I can tell you that there is nothing sweeter than seeing my youngest daughter (23 months) console her baby doll giving the doll a kiss on the forehead and saying, “it’s okay baby,” or to see my oldest daughter telling her baby brother, “you are just so handsome!”
So the next time the family dog is in your way or your better half forgets to take out the trash, be careful what you say and how you say it because I can almost guarantee that little eyes and ears are watching and listening and Monkey See, Monkey Do.
Photo courtesy of http://www.neurevolution.net/2007/07/