Olivia Chavez of Denver picked up a funny habit last year when she was 2. "She'd babble furiously at me, point her finger, and say 'No!'" says her mom, Kemi. Then one day as Chavez wagged a finger and started to reprimand Olivia, she says, "I suddenly realized where she got it!"
Toddlers are constantly copying grown-up behavior -- pretending to shave or work on the computer. "It's a natural workout for their developing brains," says Maureen O'Brien, Ph.D., author of Watch Me Grow: I'm One-Two-Three.
Repeating adult actions builds toddlers' memory, language, and social skills. They also start to understand that it takes a series of actions to make some things happen (first you open the fridge, then you take out the apple juice...). Plus, your toddler gets a chance to feel like a big kid-and you get a peek into his growing mind.