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Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5401
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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i have a child in daycare who will be 4 in november. for the

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i have a child in daycare who will be 4 in november. for the last 6 months, at least, he has been copying the other kids, and mine, words, gestures almost non-stop. Is this a behavior that is a problem for him.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 11 months ago.
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

Your child copying other children's behavior should not be an issue. Unless he is copying acting out behavior, such as biting or kicking, then it is harmless for him to imitate other children. What most likely is occurring is that he is copying others in order to learn new ways of expressing himself. Most people copy others throughout their whole lives. It is just as teens and adults, we are more subtle about that a toddler would be.

Your son most likely finds that his world has opened up with seeing how other children his age express themselves. And he is watching what they are doing and trying their words and gestures on for size, to see if he wants to adopt some of them. He may also desire to fit into the group of children and not be sure how. So he might feel that following what they do will allow him to be more accepted.

You can do a couple of things to counter act some of his behaviors. One, when you see him copying another child from his daycare, stop him and ask where he learned the word or gesture from. That will allow him to link the behavior or words to the other child and allow him to notice that it is not his behavior or words he is using, but that he is getting them from someone else.

Second, when he does use his own words or gestures, compliment him. Tell him, "I really like when you hold your spoon that way" for example. That can make him want to use his own words or gestures more often and also associates being himself as a good thing to do, along with improving his self esteem and individuality.

He should grow out of this stage eventually or at least become less obvious with it. However, if you do notice that he begins to copy negative behavior, consider talking to him about it and asking for help from the teacher and a counselor, if needed.

I hope this has helped you,
Kate











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Customer: replied 11 months ago.

Hi. I'm sorry, I wasn't clear. I am the daycare provider. This child has been with me since 3 mos. old. The behavior he has been displaying is really a concern of mine. I know children copy, but this has been going on for quite some time. He not only copies their words and gestures, but if a child falls across the room, he will get down from another activity and throw himself on the floor. He's not hurting himself, just that he would stop his current activity to go and copy another child concerns me. For the most part, he is copying children 2 years old or younger. I have always believed he was incredibly smart, and he does go to another school 2 days a week since September, but they say he does not continue this behavior there. Talking to the parents, and another childhood specialist, they believe it can just be boredom with the younger kids. I am closing in 2 weeks, I just wanted to check to make sure there is something serious we are missing. Anymore input you could give would be seriously appreciated. I sometimes feel that he really can't control himself with this behavior and then, when he is presented with a "reward" for stopping the behavior he can stop it.


 


Thanks. Maria

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 11 months ago.
Oh, sorry about that Maria!

If the child can choose when he acts this way, then it is likely not an issue. You mentioned that he does not act like this at school and when he is rewarded, he stops the behavior. That indicates that he does have control. It is only when a child cannot stop regardless of the interventions that it indicates an issue.

Most likely, this child is just imitating either as a way to entertain himself, empathize with the group or just for fun. It is unsettling to see a child go to such lengths to copy other children, particularly ones younger than he is, but at that age, the differences are not so obvious to him. If you have mentioned it to his parents and a childhood specialist and they are not concerned, than most likely he is fine. You can recommend that the parents mention the behavior to their child's doctor next time he is seen (maybe even write up a small description for them of the behavior that you are seeing so they can show the doctor), but more than likely he is going to grow out of this, particularly once he starts full time schooling.

Kate

Customer: replied 11 months ago.


Thanks. Just want to mention another issue with this behavior. When he does not respond to listening regarding stopping the behavior and disrupting the children, he has a timeout, which of course he does not like. He is then taken to another room to calm down, but when he is put in the room, (bedroom) he kicks the door and screams bloody murder, and has a complete meltdown tantrum. I usually, let him stay in the room until he has stopped such behavior, but he just continues to misbehavior, interrupt, and basically try to run around and do what he pleases with listening, regardless of the consequences. His parents say he acts the same way at home. Is this just a differences of his consequences at home and his consequences here that he doesn't respond.


 


thanks

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 11 months ago.
It could be the differences from his parents and daycare. He may also be testing limits just to see what you will do. It would help to talk with the parents to see if you could coordinate consequences with them so it is consistent, but if you are closing your day care you would need to decide if it is worth it.

Kate


I need to step out for a while to attend an appointment. If you respond again, I will try to get back to you asap. Thank you.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.

HI KATE. DON'T MEAN TO BELABOR THIS. IT'S JUST FIRST OF ALL, I LOVE THE KID. HE USED TO BE SUCH A SWEATHEART. I KNOW I AM CLOSING, BUT IT JUST KEEPS BOTHERING ME THAT SOMETHING MAY BE WRONG. I'VE BEEN DOING DAYCARE FOR 24 YEARS, AND HONESTLY HAVE NEVER HAD A KID ACT THIS WAY FOR SUCH A PERIOD OF TIME. EVERYBODY COPIES, BUT THIS BEHAVIOR JUST SEEMS SO EXTREME.


THANKS FOR ALL YOUR HELP.


 


MARIA

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 11 months ago.
I understand your concern. And if you feel that his behavior is unusual enough to warrant further attention, you may want to recommend that his parents have him seen by a therapist for an evaluation. A full evaluation will tell if there is any reason to be concerned due to underlying issues. Your concern about him is a good enough reason to request he be seen by a professional.

Kate
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5401
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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