Up to around the seventh year the child is a mimicking being. I do not say this because of some mystical inclination on my part concerning the number seven, but because the change of teeth is effectively an important juncture in the whole life development of the child. – The child learns his specific movements through imitation, even his speech is acquired through imitation; the way it develops its thought forms happens by way of imitation as well. Because the relationship between the environment of the child and the child itself is not only dependant on external factors, but deeply hidden immeasurable influences (German: Imponderabilien) also play a role, parents and educators must be aware that the child adjusts to what the adults in its environment do. Not only outwardly observable actions are taken in – not just what they say – but what they experience, what they feel, what they think as well. In our materialistic times it is generally not believed that it makes a difference whether we have noble or ignoble thoughts in the environment of the developing child because we only consider the material entities as valid and not those which are inwardly connected to things which cannot be weighed nor measured.
Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 297a – Erziehung zum Leben – Amsterdam, 28 February 1921 (p. 53-54)
Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger