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Monkey See, Monkey Do. Bad Monkey!

Posted by on January 19, 2011

To paraphrase a military saying, “Crap rolls downhill”. Apparently Alex has learned this saying somehow, somewhere. Maybe it’s instinctive.

However he learned it, how he applies it is irritating.

When I or my wife chastises him for some inappropriate behavior, he immediately proceeds to echo that chastisement to Joel. Here’s a particularly annoying, and all too common, example:

Joel, like any toddler, exhibits undesirable behaviors at the dinner table. Since he’s only 15 months old,though,  it’s hard to strictly enforce discipline. After all, he’s a lot more innocent in his transgressions than his precocious and strong-willed big brother. So, it’s common for him to start spitting or making a lot of noise during dinner. That would be frustrating enough on its own, but frequently Alex will join the bedlam. What’s worse is that Joel takes Alex’s participation as a cue to up the ante, which Alex does. Alex, now 28 months old, is definitely fair game for strong chastisements with consequences, so warn him and start counting. Usually by 2, Alex reluctantly stops. Immediately thereafter, though, our repeated order of “Stop spitting, Alex!” becomes Alex’s order of “Stop spitting, Joel!”

He does this crap all the the freaking time!

“No hitting, Alex!” becomes “No hitting, Joel!”

“Don’t throw your toys, Alex!” becomes “Don’t throw your toys, Joel!”

In nearly all of the scenarios, Alex was egging on his impressionable and generally compliant brother before ordering him to stop. The rest of the time, Joel is completely innocent.

I understand that mimicry is a normal part of child development, but it can be rather infuriating. Any suggestions for curbing this particular manifestation?