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Why Does My Toddler Talk in Third Person?

You may be wondering why your toddler seems to prefer referring to themselves in the third person. This is not uncommon and can be due to several reasons. Understanding these reasons can help you foster your child’s language development better. Let’s delve into why your toddler might be speaking in the third person.

Is It Normal for Toddlers to Talk in 3rd Person?

Yes, it’s quite normal for toddlers to talk in the third person. This is often a part of their language development process. During this phase, they might use their name instead of pronouns like ‘I’ or ‘me’. This usually happens because young children are still learning language rules and they often mirror the way adults speak to them.

What is Talking in Third Person a Symptom of?

Talking in third person isn’t typically a symptom of any disorder or condition when seen in toddlers. It’s usually just a phase in language development. However, in adults, habitual third-person speech can sometimes be associated with certain psychological conditions, like narcissism or schizophrenia, but these are not the case for toddlers learning language.

Do Autistic Toddlers Speak in Third Person?

While some children with autism might refer to themselves in the third person, it’s not exclusive to autism and isn’t a definitive indicator of the condition. Autism has a broad range of symptoms and it’s crucial to remember that many typical children also go through a phase of third-person self-reference as part of their normal language development.

What is the Psychology Behind Talking in the Third Person?

The psychology behind talking in the third person can be multi-faceted. In toddlers, it’s typically a part of the language learning process. They are often mirroring the language used by adults around them. In some cases, it can be a coping mechanism, allowing a person to distance themselves emotionally from a situation. Some research even suggests that talking in the third person can provide a degree of psychological distance that helps with emotional regulation and self-control.

Is Talking in Third Person a Coping Mechanism?

Yes, in some cases, talking in the third person can be a coping mechanism. It can help an individual distance themselves emotionally from a situation, providing a psychological buffer. This might enable better emotional regulation and decision making. However, in toddlers, third-person speech is usually just a phase in their language development rather than a coping strategy.

My Toddler Calls Himself Baby

If your toddler refers to himself as “baby”, don’t worry – this is normal behavior. Toddlers often label themselves based on the terms used by people around them. If adults frequently refer to the toddler as a “baby,” the child may naturally use this term for self-reference. As they grow and their language skills develop, they will start to understand the proper use of pronouns and their own name.

Is it My Doing?

Often, your own way of speaking to your toddler might influence their preference for third person talk. If you frequently use phrases like “Mommy is going to read a book with Emma after dinner,” your toddler will identify herself as Emma and might use that in self-reference, rather than pronouns like “I” or “me.”

Limited Language Skills

At a young age, toddlers are still mastering language skills. Pronouns might not make much sense to them yet. They understand that you call yourself “mommy” or “daddy” and them by their name. They are primarily imitating your language patterns at this stage.

Teaching Role

You, as a parent, are your toddler’s first teacher. As their vocabulary grows, it’s time to introduce the usage of pronouns. Start using sentences like, “I am making dinner,” instead of, “Mommy is making dinner.” Gradually, your toddler will start picking up these language nuances.


Social interaction is a crucial part of your toddler’s life. The more they interact with people and other toddlers, the quicker they pick up language skills. However, speaking in third person doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem—it merely shows that they are mirroring the language styles they often hear.

Separation and Objectification

Your toddler referring to themselves in the third person could also indicate that they perceive themselves as a separate entity. This realization helps them understand their individuality, distinct from their parents.

A Natural Development Stage

As your toddler starts distinguishing between names and individuals, they begin to understand that “Emma” refers to themselves. This understanding is the inception of a narrative language. They start narrating stories about their lives or about others.

A Coping Mechanism

Referring to themselves in third person can also be a coping mechanism. Much like some adults might use third person speech to separate themselves from stressful situations, toddlers might do the same.

Guiding Your Toddler Towards First Person Talk

While it’s okay for toddlers to begin their speech journey with third person references, as they grow, it’s important to gently guide them towards proper pronoun usage. Here are a few strategies:

Use Gestures

One helpful strategy could be to use pointing gestures when speaking. For instance, point to yourself and say, “I am going to take a shower.”

Reading Time

Reading to your child can also be a fantastic tool for language development. Many children’s books use first-person narratives which can help your toddler understand proper pronoun usage.

Consultation with a Pediatrician

If your child continues to use third-person references excessively past the age of four, it might be useful to consult a pediatrician. They might suggest a visit to a speech therapist or assure you that there is nothing to worry about.

How Can Help?

Parenting is a joyful yet challenging journey, and it’s normal to have questions or concerns about your toddler’s behavior. can be a helpful resource in understanding your toddler’s speech and sleep patterns. With extensive research and expert insights on toddler behavior, provides valuable guidance on managing your child’s sleep schedules and overall development. You can find various strategies on easing your toddler into a healthy sleeping routine, which can positively influence their speech development as well. Trust to be there for you in your parenting journey.