Parent Coaching Module 5: Helping your child learn by imitation

Father and young child face to face

"Do what I do!"

“Children learn new skills through watching and imitating others.”

Goal: In this module you will learn the importance of imitating your child and how to teach your child to imitate you.

Why is this important? Imitation is the means by which children (and adults!) learn new skills. Children learn non-verbal communication, language, and social behaviors through watching and imitating others. Imitation also develops empathy, as children mirror the emotions of others. Building strong imitation skills is an essential foundation of all other learning.

What can you do to help your child imitate?

The following sections will take you through the four steps child's xylaphonethat can help you encourage your child to imitate. This includes the rationale for each step, and links to additional reading and videos to support your understanding and illustrate the concepts.

Finally, we have included “Refrigerator Posts” you can download, print and post to your fridge, playroom or anywhere else to use as a handy reminder of ways you can incorporate learning into your daily play and routines.

Click on the following links to view each step teaching imitation. 

Step 1: Imitation of sounds 

Step 2: Imitation of actions on objects 

Step 3: Imitation of gestures and facial expressions

Step 4: Increasing variety of imitation 

Module Summary: The goal of this module has been to help you learn ways to encourage your child to imitate sounds, actions on objects, gestures, and facial expressions.

Reminder note

Refrigerator Posts: Download and print these pages to post as handy reminders and suggestions for activities to capture your child’s attention.

Refrigerator posts [PDF]
Refrigerator posts [MSWord]

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The content of these pages are adapted from: An early start for your child with autism: Using everyday activities to help kids connect, communicate and learn. Rogers, S.J., Dawson, G., Vismara, L.A. (2012). New York: Guilford Press.