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  1. #1

    Default imitating bad behavior

    DS1 (5) loves to imitate a friend of his who doesn't always make the best choices. In general, DS has a tendency to imitate other children's behavior, good or bad, but it is bothersome that he always imitates bad behavior when he sees it.

    My son is no angel, but he will do things completely out of character. For instance, a couple weeks ago at playgroup, a younger child took his new truck, wouldn't give it back, and broke it. DS was upset, but the other mom was trying to handle it. DS never said a word to the boy other than a quiet "it's mine." He was upset but did not lash out at the boy. Then, his buddy, who is also 5 joins playgroup, and they play together. They made a seesaw with blocks and were having a good time playing. Another younger boy comes over and tries to play but ends up knocking it over. His buddy then yells at the younger boy in a very rude way. DS1 starts yelling at him in the same way. It was total imitation since he didn't react that way when his new truck was broken.

    Today, again, DS was playing nicely at playgroup, building stuff and interacting with others in an appropriate way. His friend comes, and starts getting into everything he shouldn't and using things in a dangerous way. DS1 starts to do the exact same thing.

    It's getting really frustrating. It's not just this friend. He does a sports class with his younger brother. He listens to his coaches. Until, another sibling pair starts wrestling. He sees it, thinks it hilarious, and starts wrestling his younger brother.

    Even when he is not imitating bad behavior, he is laughing at it. He told me he likes all the bad characters in books/tv shows because it's funny the way they act.

    I have talked to him about how it is important to always make your own decisions about behavior, but what else can I do?? I am afraid that he is such a follower, and I want to be able to instill in him a sense of self-confidence so that he doesn't need to follow.

  2. #2

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    Remind, remind, remind, is about all you can really do other than model appropriate behavior which I know you are doing. Cody has had similar trouble at school though he doesn't hurt anyone he talks when the teacher is talking several times a week. We try to have him empathize and it works to a point but, we remind daily to listen to the teacher and be quiet while she is talking. We tell him if he had something important to tell us and we just ignore him and keep talking he wouldn't like it. If he watches anything with fights or violence I would block it asap and the same with books because he is so influenced.

  3. #3

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    Thanks. One reason I am concerned is that he will begin school in the fall. Like I said, he is not perfect and has some bad behavior, but then there are only times when I see certain behavior when he is imitating it.

    I am pretty particular about the stuff he sees/reads. It's innocent stuff, like he wants be the "bad guy" on Wild Kratts...the guy who tries to take all the animals (I think that is what he does) instead of wanting to be like Chris and Martin who learn about animals.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by i.<3.cheesysmiles View Post
    Thanks. One reason I am concerned is that he will begin school in the fall. Like I said, he is not perfect and has some bad behavior, but then there are only times when I see certain behavior when he is imitating it.

    I am pretty particular about the stuff he sees/reads. It's innocent stuff, like he wants be the "bad guy" on Wild Kratts...the guy who tries to take all the animals (I think that is what he does) instead of wanting to be like Chris and Martin who learn about animals.
    Cody just started watching this too but, he likes Chris and Martin. I think there is a natural fascination with being bad so to speak though. In the 90's growing up I wanted to be Angelica from Rugrats and she was spoiled brat but, I thought she was cool at the time my parents did not allow for me to watch it because I was influenced easily too and according to them "I was acting too much like Angelica" that was enough for me to stop being mean to my brother and watching Rugrats at that time was an incentive for being good and straightening up if I wanted to see it again. So maybe encourage that Chris and Martin are the cool ones but, maybe if she stated to act like the "bad guy" he won't be able to watch it for a while.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by mom2CodySophia0811 View Post
    Cody just started watching this too but, he likes Chris and Martin. I think there is a natural fascination with being bad so to speak though. In the 90's growing up I wanted to be Angelica from Rugrats and she was spoiled brat but, I thought she was cool at the time my parents did not allow for me to watch it because I was influenced easily too and according to them "I was acting too much like Angelica" that was enough for me to stop being mean to my brother and watching Rugrats at that time was an incentive for being good and straightening up if I wanted to see it again. So maybe encourage that Chris and Martin are the cool ones but, maybe if she stated to act like the "bad guy" he won't be able to watch it for a while.
    Yeah, he doesn't imitate the bad guys. Fortunately, they do imitate the good guys...they even get their stuffed animals out and have "creature power." It's pretty cute! I have already hidden a couple of Arthur books (at least for a while) because they were repeating some of the negative language in there, and I will take him home the next time we are at playgroup and he starts imitating bad behavior, but at the same time, I feel like I can't just take away any negative influence in the world, you know?

  6. #6

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    Honestly, I think it's perfectly normal and I've been through it with mine, especially for the years I took care of children in my home. I worried at times, just like you, but eventually our family values have been able to override the imitation of less desirable behavior. Just be vigilant about conversations and stories about kindness and how we deal with negative emotion, which I know you are. There is so much to be learned about socially acceptable behavior, and making friends, being fair, and it can only be learned through trial and error during interactions with all different types of children. There is really no substitute for this kind of learning, but to let him work through it in safe, watchful environments.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bridget View Post
    Honestly, I think it's perfectly normal and I've been through it with mine, especially for the years I took care of children in my home. I worried at times, just like you, but eventually our family values have been able to override the imitation of less desirable behavior. Just be vigilant about conversations and stories about kindness and how we deal with negative emotion, which I know you are. There is so much to be learned about socially acceptable behavior, and making friends, being fair, and it can only be learned through trial and error during interactions with all different types of children. There is really no substitute for this kind of learning, but to let him work through it in safe, watchful environments.
    Thanks Bridget. It's good to know that it is normal. He is nearing the age that I taught, and I am realizing that things are so different seeing a 5 year old at home vs. the classroom!

    There was a bright spot tonight at dinner. We had talked about how he needs to make his own choices when we are out at playgroup, and if he wants to play with a friend, instead of copying him, he can ask him if he wants to play with trains or whatever.. I think that might be part of it...he might not know how to initiate play. We'll work on that for next week.

    Tonight, he talked about his other friend (who I don't know at all...it's his buddy from my gym's daycare). When they first hung out, he would tell me about all the "wild" things he and his friend did. Tonight, he told me "B listens. He listens better than [the kid from playgroup]. B is my best friend." Seems like you are right Bridget, he is really just learning what friendships mean and what socially acceptable behavior is. DS does not have many other 5-6 year old boys to hang out with since most around here go to preschool, so hopefully as his social sphere continues to expand, he will meet children with all different kids of behavior and choose friends who treat him and others kindly.

    I am going to look through my books today and look my libraries catalog to see if I can find some books that deal with friendship. He loves to read. I already have a couple in mind

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