My child says “me” instead of “I”…how long is this considered age-appropriate?
Pronoun aquisition occurs in a predictable 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.
A pronoun is considered mastered when a child uses it correctly 80% of the time during spontaneous unstructured speech. We recommend modeling accurate pronoun use when speaking to your child. So many of us (I’m guilty as well) will use third person when talking to our babies and toddlers (i.e. referring to ourselves as mom or dad instead of “I”). If we make an effort to accurately use pronoun, it will assist our children with their acquisition.
Considerations for Teaching Pronoun Acquisition
Keep in mind that pronouns should be taught with respect to an individuals identifying gender. Avoiding gender stereotypes when our children are young will model respect for all people. As children get older, conversations about pronouns involve more than just grammar.
In order to assist your child with pronoun acquisition, try one of the following strategies when they make pronoun errors. Keep your tone light and fun.
•Repeat the error back as a question indicating that you’re questioning if they meant to say it that way (e.g. “Me do it?”)
•Ask your child to pair gender with the appropriate he/she/they pronoun (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. “You try… ‘I do it’.”).
Adapted from Hass & Owens (1985); Huxley (1970); Morehead & Ingram (1973); Waterman & Schatz (1982); and Wells (1985).
If you have concerns about your child’s pronoun acquisition and development we would be happy to give you specific recommendations. Schedule a free phone consultation or click the link below to complete a short questionnaire about your child.