Have you noticed? One of the most common mistakes parents - and even preschool teachers - make when talking to their babies and toddlers is talking to them in the third person. Instead of saying "Come to me," they say "Come to Mom (or Dad)." Or "Mom (or Dad) will help you." instead of "I will help you."

A lot of parents seem to underestimate their little ones as if they were unable to learn pronouns such as "I" or "me." This may be a mistake since it prevents the child from assimilating some essential elements of the language that should be taught and repeated - and understood - as early as possible.

And there is another downside to this problem, which only makes things worse. "Mom" and "dad" or "grandma" and "grandpa" are terms used to refer to countless mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers. Speaking in the third person when talking about yourself can therefore confuse a developing mind. Well, when you say to a child, "Give the toy to Mom," how can they guess that you are talking about yourself and not about another mother (especially when there are several mothers around!)?

In fact, there's no reason to use misleading vocabulary and grammar when talking to babies and toddlers. By hearing correct words and phrases early on, they will progress faster in their language learning. Children are much more receptive and smarter than many adults might think. On the other hand, it's a good idea to use "baby talk" or "motherese," the high-pitched intonation that most adults use with infants all around the world. But that's another topic.

Picture: First steps, by Vincent van Gogh, after Jean-François Millet (Wikipedia)

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