Diary of a supermum: Learning through imitation

Read on to know how what you expose your child to can carve their minds

By Suneeta Rao

“Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate”.

These words, written on an unassuming note, on a tiny piece of paper stuck on the notice board of my child’s music class caught my eye as I was carrying her into the foyer of the school building. And they are still ringing in my ears. Greater words are seldom spoken. Reading them at once instilled in me a gamut of feelings - responsibility, guilt, inadequacy and, simultaneously, hope and determination. All mixed up in one sweeping moment. 

All mothers constantly want to do better. We often assume that our children are smarter than us, but very often do not really stimulate or challenge them by exposing them to things at home, other than the regular playthings. Books, magazines, music, dance, and toys – all these are limitless in their capacity to bring out the potential of a child. And yet we tend to leave a lot of this to the teachers. Especially if we are working mothers. I feel it is my biggest challenge as a mother to give Maya many great things to imitate.

Greatness, of course, is relative. And not all of us have great ideas or talents. But the world is full of great things. All we have to do is broaden our horizons, keep looking out for things that might interest the child and let them have the chance to explore them, without underestimating their abilities or imposing our own preferences onto them by saying,”Oh, this is too complicated”, or “This is not my cup of tea so she won’t like it either!” and so on.

Of course, there are always some not-so-great things that children are exposed to – especially once they start playschool or preschool – which you have little or no control over. For instance, Maya comes home one day and says,” Mama, the monster is going to eat me!” Now I cannot for my life remember telling her or reading to her anything about monsters! Then on her way to school the other day she said, “The dogs eat the cats!” I was taken aback. All I ever told her was that dogs chase cats – but someone else has put the idea of them being eaten into her head! And the last straw was when she said, “Mama, are you fighting DeeDee?” DeeDee is the nanny, and she must have interpreted a firm tone as ‘fighting’ – but who taught her the word? Not me! However, although these things are unavoidable, I believe they are harmless, and in fact are an essential part of growing up.

And, needless to say, the good things they learn at school far outweigh the bad. She comes home reciting and singing the most delightful poems and songs. Plus the teacher has just told me that she started off as being a bit distracted as well as obstinate, and that there has been a definite improvement. And also, she is really good at sorting colours and shapes – something I noticed even at home. Who knows – maybe she will be an architect someday? A great profession, no doubt.

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