Imitation is an important part of social learning. Toddlers use imitation to acquire knowledge about the world around them and how to interact with it.
Contrary to popular belief, though, children don't start consciously imitating adults until the age of 2.
Researchers originally believed that imitation was a means through which babies acquired knowledge. But since babies haven't even figured out what their tongue, hands, feet, etc., are yet, they can't possibly be mimicking adult behavior.
Instead, imitation is the result of knowledge acquisition as a baby becomes a toddler.
Toddlers mimic adults in their play to prepare for future social situations and to practice skills they'll need when they grow up, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
It's important to model for toddlers how to navigate certain situations such as social interactions, solving complex problems, and resolving conflicts.
How you react in these situations will have a big impact on how your child does in the future.
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