Recently, we did this with our 3-year-old son Sender at the dinner table. As he imitated me, he made a bunch of silly faces; I'm not really sure how I feel about that, but it was better than Joanna got. When it was time for him to imitate her, he got a serious look on his face and very sternly said, "What?!" Joanna and I both tried to remember when she actually says that, but we laughed and shrugged and let it go.
Two days later, Joanna and the kids were with some other families for a "play group" at someone's house. A handful of moms were inside, and about 15 kids were outside playing. Sender began repeatedly knocking on the door, and eventually Joanna (understandably not wanting to leave the adult conversation) went to the door and sternly started to say, "Wh--?!" She caught herself. What an eye opener!
Our kids follow our lead, sometimes in negative ways. Negative as in mimicking the tone of voice that they hear us use (and doesn't it sound so much worse when we hear it in others?). Negative as in strongly preferring being inside reading, watching TV, or playing video games, instead of outside playing and working up a sweat (our son Elijah gets this from me). Negative as in having a bad attitude when life doesn't go our way.
Of course, imitations can be positive, too. I remember when Elijah was a baby, and Joanna was constantly caring for and feeding him. Hannah (age 2 at the time) copied her mother, and seemed to always have a baby doll under her shirt, "feeding" it as best she could do.
What started as merely a cute imitation has now morphed into something more, as Hannah has an wonderful motherly side to her. She regularly asks to read to Sender and put him to bed at night or naptime. When he wore diapers, she often changed him, even without us telling her to. She loves serving at church with younger children.
The Apostle Paul called young believers to follow his example. "And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ." (I Corinthians 11:1). Similarly, we are the primary models for our children, to demonstrate what a life in Christ looks like. Consider how you are doing this.
The best way to be an example for your child is for you to passionately pursue and imitate Christ.
How has your child imitated you, for better or for worse?
**image courtesy of kikko77 via sxc.hu