My child says “me” instead of “I”…how long is this considered age-appropriate?
Children typically acquire pronouns in the following order:
•Between 12-26 months of age, children will use the pronouns I (to refer the themselves) and it.
•Between 27-30 months, children will acquire the pronouns my, me, mine, and you.
•Between 31-34 months, children will use your, she, he, your, and we.
•Between 35-40 months, the pronouns they, us, hers, his, them and her are acquired.
•Between 41-46 months children will use its, our, him, myself, yourself, ours, their, and theirs.
•At 47+ months, the pronouns herself, himself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, and themselves are acquired.
After the pronoun is acquired, the child should be able to use it correctly 80% of the time in spontaneous speech. Oftentimes we hear children using pronouns incorrectly, such as “me do it” instead of “I (will) do it”. In those cases, the child is not understanding what the pronoun “I” means and is modeling what they hear from their caregivers (e.g. “give it to me”). The child assumes “me” is the correct form.
In order for your child to start using the correct pronouns all the time, you can try one of the following strategies when you hear your child use these pronouns incorrectly:
•Repeat the error back as a question (e.g. “Me do it?”)
•Ask your child if the person is a boy or a girl and then ask which pronoun should be used (e.g. “Is that a boy or a girl? Should we say ‘he is running’ or ‘she is running’?”)
•Correct the error for your child (e.g. “Oh, you mean ‘He is eating’.”)
•Model the correct pronoun and have your child repeat what you say (e.g. “Tell me ‘I do it’.”).
Adapted from Hass & Owens (1985); Huxley (1970); Morehead & Ingram (1973); Waterman & Schatz (1982); and Wells (1985).