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Facts for Life

Child Development and Early Learning

Supporting Information

4.

Children learn how to behave (socially and emotionally) by imitating the behaviour of those closest to them.

By watching and imitating others, young children learn how to interact socially. They learn acceptable and unacceptable kinds of behaviour.

The examples set by adults, older siblings and children are the most powerful influences shaping a child's behaviour and personality. One way children learn is by copying what others do. If men and women do not treat each other equally, the child will observe, learn and probably copy this behaviour. If adults shout, behave violently, exclude or discriminate, children will learn this type of behaviour. If adults treat others with kindness, respect and patience, children will follow their example. If mothers and fathers treat each other with love and respect, this is what their children will learn and most likely 'replay' in their adult relationships.

Children like to pretend. This should be encouraged, as it develops their imagination and creativity. It also helps the child understand different ways people behave.