'Mary wants to go', 'Mary wants water'- as cute as it may sound, a child speaking in the third person can become a cause of concern for many parents. As is the case with many stages and phases in a toddler's life, they’ll outgrow this too and will start speaking normally soon enough. However, you can encourage your child to do this early by stepping in with a little help.
Toddler Talking in the Third Person: Understanding the Phase
- Toddlers are intrigued by themselves, and as they discover the art of communication their favourite topic is usually them. This leads to toddlers referring to themselves in the third person and using their given names instead of saying ‘I’ or ‘me’. At this age, they’re still learning the usage of pronouns too and often mix up 'he' or 'she' and 'him' and 'her'.
- Another reason for toddlers to speak as a third person is that they hear people around them doing the same. Often, as parents, we tend to have the habit of doing just that. An example of speaking in the third person is 'Mommy is getting your milk', or 'Daddy is picking up your favourite toy'. Since toddlers are great imitators, they pick up the way we speak and do the same.
Your Role in Helping Your Toddler:
Most toddlers outgrow referring to themselves in the third person by the age of 4. If your child doesn’t show this inclination, a speech-language pathologist can be consulted for help. Do note, however, that most children do not need medical help. They can learn to use first person speech with your aid. Here are a few activities for teaching first person point of view to toddlers:
- Read specific books to your child that focus on the usage of pronouns. Check the same when picking up books for your child and refrain from getting books that contain baby language.
- Expose your child to social gatherings and to groups of adults holding a conversation. Toddlers observe a lot at this stage and can grasp the nuances of first person communication, provided they’re exposed to it.
- Teaching toddlers to use ‘I’ for themselves starts at home! You and your partner should actively use the first person around your toddler and correct her when she uses her name instead of 'I' or ‘me’. If you have older children, ask them to do the same.
Identifying what is talking in the third person and knowing when to step in can help your child speak in the first person soon. Follow these tips and assist your toddler to reach the next developmental milestone. As you help her overcome this tendency of using third person speech, you may want to record her speaking in the same. It won’t be long before she’ll be talking in the first person and there are chances you’ll miss her sweet baby talk!
Does your child talk in the third person too? How do you help?