Copycat Syndrome


Two girls copying each other. Kids have a mind of their own, yet they choose time and time again to use someone else’s. If their bestie loves bowling, they do too. If your kiddo despises hot dogs, and you suddenly find them requesting them every night for dinner, you can be sure it’s their bestie’s favorite food.

As parents, we are all too familiar with the monkey-see-monkey-do debacle. We’ve all been there as kids, idolizing our friends while we choke down an ice cream flavor we couldn’t stand the taste of, playing three games of hopscotch even though it was the last game on earth you would ever play if given a choice, and the list goes on.

Fast forward, and we relive it all over again as our children fall victim to the copycat syndrome. We encourage our kids to be leaders in a world full of followers. As parents, we stress the importance of individuality and self-expression yet come up short every time.

From clothes to shoes and even sports, our little ones replicate what they see even if it doesn’t suit them. Not only does their creativity take a hit, but our wallets also do. Our kids become fixated on things they’ve never shown interest in before and unknowingly lose their identity in the process.

The early childhood years are crucial to discovering who they are and walking their own path, all while appreciating their peers’ likes and dislikes. Copying is a phase that most kids go through, but if not addressed, it can turn into a hard-to-break pattern. 

The situation becomes tricky when they want to participate in a sport or activity their friends play, but they know nothing about it. When presented with this request, we parents begin to feel anxious about our children missing out on something they may excel in and enjoy. Therefore, we willingly spend money on gear and uniforms, only for our kids to throw in the towel after a mild disagreement with their friends.

Let’s not forget the hours we’ve spent in a store tirelessly explaining to our children why they can’t have a certain pair of jeans because they are three sizes too big. The rationalization and logic is completely discarded because our valid points are either overlooked by them or just outright ignored. A temper tantrum usually follows with a dramatic exit down the t-shirt aisle.

Unfortunately, we parents may never be ableto eliminate the notion of imitation fullyn. However, there are ways to work towards decreasing it. If you find yourself stuck in the cycle of replication and exhaustion, try enrolling your child in an art or writing class. Creativity is one of the best ways for kids to explore their likes, dislikes, and proven ability to regain a new perspective.  

It shows them that by copying someone’s clothes, hobbies, etc., they are downplaying their own potential. Teaching our kids early in life to find their own way instead of riding someone else’s coattails is a step in the right direction.

They may not realize it now, but one day their originality will be their ticket to landing that dream job, not their commitment to cloning. The copycat syndrome may feel like it will never end, but it’s only a matter of time before our little ones find something else to obsess over. Let’s hope it includes originality and the desire to stand out instead of blending in.