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Are Your Kids Playing Copycat?

"Chandler, stop copying me," Taylor, 9, begged.

"Chandler, stop copying me," Chandler, 5, responded.

"I'm telling!"

"I'm telling!"

This exchange was nothing new to their mom, Jennifer Mathis of Richardson, TX. But she wasn't sure who was more annoyed: Taylor or her.

The copycat game is a time-honored way for siblings to torment each other. But there's more to it, says Debbie Glasser, Ph.D., founder of NewsForParents.orgTune it out. Both kids want attention. If you ignore the behavior and the complaints, they'll lose steam fast. (First, tell the child who's being copied to ignore his sibling, too: It's not what he wants to hear, but it's still good advice.)

Look for patterns. Do they start up when they're bored before dinner? Stock up on joke books so they can play more productive word games.

Put it in perspective. Sibling fights are inevitable, and they're not always a bad thing: kids get to practice resolving differences on their own.

Keep your sense of humor. As Glasser says, "If you can laugh about it later, laugh about it now."

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