20 Important Things Children Learn by Observing You

Learn by Observing You

Things Children Learn by Observing You: When we become parents, we want our children to be very knowledgeable, open minded and curious. We want to explain this world to our child to develop the urge of discovery and we think that, by doing this, we will make him learn everything.

But, in reality, clear explanations of everything and empirical tests are not needed for children because they learn a lot by observing the world around them and by watching us.

It is believed that there is no need to explain everything to your children because they learn by observing you.

What makes it possible for babies and kids to imitate and observe

Learn by Observing You - Quote

Even very young babies observe their parents closely and imitate them as far as they can. In this way, they gradually get to know the full spectrum of human emotions.

They learn by observing you due to the presence of mirror neurons. Development of mirror neurons makes this learning process possible.

Humans and primates alike have a very special type of nerve cell with amazing abilities: the mirror neurons trigger the same sensations in the brain when simply observing an action that would arise as if we had undertaken the action ourselves.

This is the reason why the love scene in the film almost moves us to tears and we empathize when our child hits his knees somewhere.

In 1995, an Italian researcher studied monkey brains and made the amazing discovery that certain areas of the monkey’s brain were activated not only when they made a movement, but also when they observed the same or a similar movement.

The mirror neurons were discovered that react not only to purely motor, but also to emotional actions. This explains why we often know intuitively how other people feel or what they need.

They are responsible for ensuring that we let ourselves be infected by happy (children’s) laughter and that the bad mood around us pulls us down.

20 Important things children learn by observing you

Observing and imitating are two things that your little one is good at doing in his development. And this constitutes to learn by observing you.

Therefore, it is as simple or as complex as that. Parents should support the learning process and to get to know new things and live life by example for them to have their children grow the way they wish to or want. Since, Kids just learn by observing you.

20 Important Things Children Learn by Observing You

1. Involve your kid in your activities:

When you are gardening in the yard, invite your little one to come play and help. Nature is always the place to observe the best. A little dirty is not a problem, because nature is a fun learning medium.

Seeing parents who were busy digging the ground, giving fertilizer and watering the plants would make him curious. Eventually he will join in doing the same and learn by observing you.

By involving them in your activity you are giving them wide exposure and they can pick hobbies or even their life purpose from these. Further reading: How-To Motivate Your Kids to Do ANYTHING.

2. Language development of a child:

Set aside time to read each day, even if it’s just a few minutes. Reading aloud is one simple way to improve your baby’s language development.

Make it more interesting with facial expressions, voice effects, and different character voices. Keep books in an affordable place so your baby can explore whenever they want. Soon you will find them imitate your language, accent, tone and expressions and thereby learn by observing you.

Further reading: How to build positive family relationship with your teen ; DO YOU KNOW HOW READING BENEFITS YOUR BABY?

3. Display good behaviour:

The baby will copy your actions. If you don’t want your little one to bite, push, or hit objects, then you shouldn’t slap your child.

You land up cursing someone on the road (probably because they were wrong) but soon you will you’re your little one does the same much to your embarrassment.

So, display the behaviour you like your little one to display cause they learn by observing you.

Further reading: How to build positive family relationship with your teen.

4. Work ethics:

Learn by Observing You kids imitating adults

If you want your children to be active and have good work ethics (study ethics), you cannot command them to put in their hard work while you lie in bed.

If they will not see you active then they will not follow your command. Further reading: 11 Amazing ways FATHER’S contribute to child’s success.

5. Responsibility:

Children learn responsibility by the way in which you take care of your family. The way you interact with them and feel responsible for them. And how you take care of your parents and friends and larger family members.

They also see how you take ownership of any situation that confronts your family and act responsibly. 

It can even be small things like taking your dog to the vet when he is sick full stop or helping your little one put on his shoes and proper clothing when it’s cold outside.

Further reading: Chores for toddlers; All You Need to know about Chores for Your Teenager

6. Children learn respect for others by observation:

If your child sees you respect women, he will do the same. If you disrespect then he will also imitate. Parents have to take care of their attitude.

Show with your behaviour that all human beings in this world are equal and they deserve equal love and respect.

Further reading: How-To Build HOPE in your Teenager.

7. Your kids learn time management from you:

If you are always late for your work. All always in a hurry to catch the train. For coming in late when you have committed a certain time will stop or not keeping up with your time commitments. Or always seems pressured and overworked and have a lot of things pending in your plate.

All this is observed by the children and effective time management is learn by your activities. If you are a smart parent and have all your things in order. And you are able to manage time effectively.

You will find that your children invariably follow and be very efficient in their time management skills. Further reading: How- to Improve time management in kids (11 Tips).

8. Kids learn life skills:

Motivate Your Kids

15. Risk taking and adventures:

It is not unheard of that children pop in into the kitchen and help you out with your cooking. Or they might lend in a hand to clean the car. Or help in doing the gardening. Or throw out the trash for you if you request them to. Sometimes they even can go ahead and do grocery shopping and bill payment as they are older.

All these things they do because they see you do it and you have involved them in these activities one way or the other while they are growing up.

So, a lot of life skills that your child will be using as they grow up to be adults stems from what they have seen you do when they were growing up and learn by observing you. Further reading: TEACH YOUR CHILD LIFE SKILLS: A How-To Guide

9. Dress sense and appearance and presentability:

If you are a parent who dresses neatly. Wears neat and ironed clothes. Dresses appropriately for the occasion. Wears coordinated accessories and presents themselves well.

I don’t mean to say that they need to be expensive or branded. Just what you can afford is worn in a clean and neat way.

You will find your kid doing the same even when you are not watching them. 

10. Money management and financial wisdom:

Have a lavish lifestyle and you kid is going to add on to it. Have a balanced one and you will find your children displaying financial wisdom.

If you show healthy earning, spending and investing patten you are giving a solid financial base to your child.

If you are reckless in spending and always short of cash or taking hand loans and struggling to replay. The chances of your kid learning to spend recklessly increases. Further reading: MONEY MANAGEMENT for Kids – How & when to start?; How to teach financial wisdom to your teen?.

11. Eating habits:

If every second day is a pizza party, followed with comfort foods like chips and fries and aerated drink, chocolates and desserts. It will be difficult for you to set the right example for your growing child when they learn by observing you.

Very frequent online ordering of food or take-aways or dining out to please your taste buds and then expect your child to eat vegetables that are on their plate will soon become an Ethiopian dream for you. Further reading: All you need to know about nutrition in kids

12. Health and hygiene:

Not having proper hygiene. For example, not taking a bath for weeks. Or by ignoring health concerns by not following proper exercise regime and leading a sedentary lifestyle.

You will easily set all the wrong examples for your child to follow in their life. Further reading:How to teach kids Personal Hygiene? And When?

13. Social behaviours:

The way you interact with your friends even if it is on a phone call. Or how you talk with people in public. The way you interact with your parents or your loved ones.

The language, the tone or the mannerisms that you use during these interactions. Are all observed and noted by your child and they learn by observing you.

Soon you will find that their social interactions will look very similar and identical to that they have seen you display.

Same goes with the choice of friends that they have or the company they choose to spend their time with as they progress into their teenage years. Further reading: How-to help your teen to choose right friends; How-To get rid of your Teen’s Toxic Friendship.

14. Face challenges:

How you face challenges that life throws at you. Do you face it with courage or you go about crying and whining and complaining? Are you defeated because of it and you do not try and you give up? Or you try to raise above the challenge and overcome it.

Your mood be it happiness or the sorrow that you feel or display when you go through the challenge. All this is noted by your child.

And you would find them resilient if you have shown them the same quality when you faced challenges. Further reading: 11 Practical ways to help your child face challenges; How to Prepare your Teenager Face Challenges in Life.

If your kid finds you jumping signals. Or overstepping the speed limits. Or rash driving. You can defend yourself by saying you have better control than what your kid does. But it would be very difficult for you to stop your kid from displaying suck risk taking behaviour.

Remember your risk-taking ability in many ways rubs on your kid. If you are a person who is rebellious and breaks rules pretty much you will see that your child will also display such nature that they are privy. 

After all they say that the apple doesn’t fall far away from the tree. Further reading:How to control Risk taking behaviour in your teenager.

20 Important Things Children Learn by Observing You

16. Children learn honesty by observation:

A policeman stops you for speeding on the road and you tell him that you are in a hurry to pick your son from school though he is in the back seat and knows it is not true.

Lying has become such a common practice in the life of an adult that you may not even realize you are doing it but your child knew about it.

And, following the example you set for him, he will assume that it is not a big deal to lie even about big things. Further reading: Surprising truth about Moral Values development in kids

17. Social responsibility:

If you’re concerned about the environment. Or you’re concerned about the political situation and you make sure you cast your vote. If you love to rescue animals and you volunteer yourself to do so.

Whatever be your cause, when you participate in it you will indirectly give a lesson on social responsibility to your kid. Further reading: Understanding purpose

18. Empathy and concern:

The way you treat others. If you lend a helping hand to an old person who was trying to cross the street. Or pickup stray dog and find him a home. Or lend a sympathetic ear to a friend who is calling out for help.

Feel deeply about a misfortune that has fallen on your neighbour and do something to help them.

All these empathy and concern and action taken are actually passed on to your children as a blessing and not only that they also learn to be more empathetic and sensitive to the concerns of people around them. Further reading: How-To Build HOPE in your Teenager

19. Attitude and mindset:

Your overall attitude and outlook towards life is usually mimicked by your children. If you are someone who trusts everyone and looks for the good in people.

You will also find your children capable of trusting people and forming healthy relationships.

However, if you have a negative outlook of life or people or society in general. Or carry certain prejudice or biases towards anything. Your children most likely will carry the same attitude and biases that you carry. Further reading:How-To develop Positive Thinking in your teenager.

20. Manners and mannerisms: 

If you are loud and obnoxious on a dinner table. Or   talk with food in your mouth. You open your mouth and chew so that everyone across the table can hear your chewing noise. You sneeze without covering your mouth. Or you skip a queue and get in front by pushing and shoving people.

All these manners and mannerisms are observed by your child and they learn by observing you. And there is no way you can tell your child that this is impolite or improper when you were the one who had and intentionally taught them these mannerisms. Further reading: How-To Teach Good Manners to Your Kids?

Note to Parents:

kid watching his mother using laptop

What I have stated above are important aspect of child growth that is influenced by our behaviour.

While it is most of the time influenced, I have also seen sons of an alcoholic not touching alcohol at all because they have seen their father suffer. Or children of a financially wise parent went about in reckless spending because they felt their parents were very conservative about money.  

So, many factors influence the final outcome. It can be the influence of the other parent to friends, society and self-motivation and belief of the kid. Still the point remains that children learn by observing you.  

Encourage two-way conversation:

you need to talk to your child. Tell your stories to your child, give him time to respond.

Say something and wait for him to repeat what he understood. Ask babies with answers other than yes or no. Eventually the child will start telling you everything. You may not understand the babbling but you can encourage a two-way conversation.

And over period of time this communication will develop to a matured level where you can influence your child and train them better.

Children as a mirror of their parents

I’m sure you know that: you woke up in a bad mood in the morning. To make matters worse, your child is absolutely obnoxious today. It’s grouchy and whimpering and unsatisfactory. Just a coincidence? Probably not. Your child reflects you.

Given the background knowledge about the mirror neurons, this behaviour becomes more understandable and maybe next time you will no longer take your child’s bad mood personally, but instead as an opportunity to rethink and change your own behaviour. You will find that your child’s mood will improve almost immediately.


Children will collect information about the world and educate themselves by looking at us, observing the way we behave: holding a fork, stroking a cat, gardening, language development, vocabulary, respect for others, active life style and positivity in life…

They will understand how things work when they see people around them do it. And observing those around them will also allow them to understand the diversity of individuals.

For parents, it is important to understand that the best way to teach your child things is therefore … To be yourself.

God Bless!!..

Thabitha David

Thabitha David

Mother, Wife, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Friend. She is a MBA Graduate specialized in Human Resources. She is a very proud mother of 3 Kids. (2 Teens & 1 Tween). She is a keen Observer of Life and is a blogger. She writes these articles based on her experience (Success and Failures). She does this with hope to help and ease the pain of at-least one parent as they face the challenges of parenting. Read more from the About Us Page

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