Your Child's Brain in Week 94
Your toddler is getting to know herself quite well. The name game is old hat now: She sure knows when you call her or even mention her name in conversation. More recently, she's become wise to her own reflection in the mirror. These days, you may even hear your child begin using pronouns correctly, referring not to herself by name but instead by "I" and "me." All of these skills demonstrate your child's development of her sense of self as separate and distinct from others: This is a central issue of toddlerhood!
What the Research Shows
To assess how well boys, ages 22 to 28 months, could comprehend and use pronouns, researchers gave a group two tests. In the first, their mothers asked their child to do things involving the pronouns "my" and "your." For example, the mother would say, "Tickle my toes," "Touch your nose," and "Comb my hair". The child passed this test—revealing that he could recognize pronouns—if he could perform most of the requested actions correctly.
In the second test, each mother was asked to report whether her child used "I" and "me" correctly in everyday conversation, and whether he expressed any confusion between the use of "I" or "me" with the pronoun "you." (The researchers also observed such self-labeling during the course of the testing; these records supplemented the mothers' reports.)
Researchers found that the children came to use pronouns correctly somewhere between 22 and 28 months of age. And once they did, they regularly claimed their toys as "mine!" and were able to recognize themselves in the mirror. We know now that these three acts of self-definition occur almost simultaneously.
Week 94 Brain Booster
It's perfectly normal for your toddler to incorrectly use pronouns as he first attempts to include them in conversations over the coming months: The rules of English are tough, even for much older kids! Deciding when to use "I" and "me" (as in "I eat cereal" versus "Me eat cereal") is even further complicated by attempting to add in possessive pronouns: "my," "your," and so forth.
Regardless, go ahead and include pronouns when talking with your child. Use them correctly yourself, but resist correcting your child when he misuses them. If your child says, "Me go park," there's no need to say, "Don't say, 'me go to the park', say, 'I'm going to the park." Your only response needs to be, "Yes, you are going to the park and so am I." If your child says "hold you" to mean, "I want you to hold me," simply respond with, "I'll hold you," or ask, "Do you want me to hold you?"
Learning pronouns not only makes your toddler's language that much richer and more precise, but it's also a key step toward full self-definition. So don't be alarmed when he overdoes it by identifying all of his possessions as "Mine!"
Curious about how else your toddler might be developing right now? Learn more about her clever brain and her growing body here: