Child Mimicking Bad Behavior? Here Are 8 Tips

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naughty child mimicking bad bahavior

Children are at a very formative stage in their lives where almost anything can have a drastic impact on them.

They might see a friend at school do something bad, get laughs from their peers, and then mimic that behavior at home.

Children are very impressionable, and anything can rub off on them – including naughty behavior.

It’s essential to nip lousy behavior practices in the bud before they become a routine in your child’s life.

But how?

It can be pretty challenging to address bad behavior, mainly if it stems from mimicking.

Here are a few tips to help you when your child starts mimicking bad behavior.

We’ll start by addressing why your child is mimicking bad behavior.

8 Tips If You Have A Child Mimicking Bad Behavior

Why Is Your Child Mimicking Bad Behavior?

bad behavior from girl

Many reasons could lead to a mimicking of bad behavior in young children.

Some are simple. This behavior gets laughs from an audience! Others could be deeper, like your child is lacking attention and is seeking ways to receive it.

Let’s take a look at three of the most common reasons for children to start mimicking bad behavior.

Knowing the cause of this mimicking will help you address the issue and possibly negate the bad behavior faster than otherwise.

When your child begins to mimic bad behavior, ask yourself what is the likely response to this bad behavior.

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This will typically point you in the direction of one of the following three reasons for the mimicking.


One of the most common reasons for a mimicked behavior is the laughs received from the action.

When your child does something or sees someone else do something bad that gets a laugh, they’ll be very likely to start doing it themselves.

This is particularly common in a school setting when another student does something that gets a laugh from peers.

When your child sees this, they’ll want to recreate the behavior to initiate the same response, unaware that they’re doing bad.


young child screaming bad behavior

Your child might want attention – good or bad. They’ll begin to practice bad behavior because they know that people will pay attention to it rather than good behavior.

This could result from lacking attention at home, which is a deeper issue you’ll need to address while also curving the bad behavior.


Along the same lines of attention, your child might be practicing bad behavior because they know they can get a response.

Some children know that getting a good response is much harder than a bad one. So they’ll mimic the behavior they know is bad for any sort of response.

This could be connected to a lack of attention at home and is likely done for pure reasons. Some children can become conditioned that a bad response is the only response they’re likely to get and therefore better than no response.

Address the desire for a negative response now before they become used to it and seek it out.

Ways to Address the Mimicking

parents on sofa correcting childs behavior

Now we know what might be causing the issues! We can now look at steps to address and solve the issue of bad behavior mimicking.

These are tips that work best in tandem with one another, so be ready to implement more than one at a time.

Here are 8 tips for parents whose children are continuously mimicking bad behavior.

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Defining the Issue

Tell your children that what they’re doing is wrong and is bad behavior.

For some, this might be enough and your children could stop mimicking the bad behavior they’ve seen. For others, simply saying what they’re doing is bad will not be enough.

State Your Expectations

Let your children know what you expect of them. Once you’ve let them know that their behavior is poor, let them know what their behavior should be like.

Give them standards for them to achieve in order to meet your expectations.

Reward the Good Times

the word reward

Once you’ve explained what you expect of them, give them incentives for achieving those standards.

If they have rewards for good behavior, they’ll be much more likely to start practicing the good, and the bad mimicking will drop.

Don’t Be Afraid to Implement Consequences

This can be tricky as it may lead to more bad behavior. If you’ve found that a lack of attention is not the root cause of their mimicking, consequences for poor behavior is a great way to steer them away from it.

Again, first, ensure that the consequences aren’t what they’re seeking and address any lack of attention first.

Reward good behaviors, don’t reward bad behaviors. Positive reinforcement is key!

Learning cause and effect is also a vital development.

Pick the Right Timing

Children have started to embrace an online presence which can be difficult to interrupt.

Sometimes, interrupting a game or scroll through social media can lead to irritation and will only enforce further bad behavior when you talk to them.

If you’re going to address their mimicking, do so on their schedule so that they feel more comfortable talking about the issues.

Consistency Is Key To The Behavior Of Young Children

Communicate your thoughts clearly and make sure that there are no contradictory expectations.

When your kids are confused, they’ll be much less likely to address the bad behavior they’re mimicking and may even implement it further.

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Make it Seem Like Their Choosing

Giving your kids the feeling of power over their decisions provides them with a sense of independence.

When your kids feel as though they’re making the decision rather than being told to do something, they’re much more likely to follow through with it.

With curbing bad behavior, provide them with a choice of two good activities to do rather than welling in the bad behavior.

Be Their Role Model

dad role model

The whole issue you’re experiencing is your children are keen to mimic what they see. The problem is that they’re only seeing bad behavior and therefore, that’s what they mimic.

When you offer them good behavior and proper manners, they might start mimicking what you’re doing rather than the bad behavior they see elsewhere.

Lead by example and addressing this issue will be much easier.


Mimicking bad behavior is the prerogative of a young child, especially if it gets them a laugh! Correcting this behavior is not easy. It involves using the tips in this article and engaging with anyone who interacts with your child. Include both parents and all family members.

You have to stop people laughing! When my son swore as a toddler, I laughed. That gave him the motivation to repeat it, again and again, and again. That was totally my influence. You have to control your own response.

Controlling yourself is one of the key things you can do as a parent. You will soon be a parenting expert!

Good luck!

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