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Why does my 2½-year-old calls me by my first name?
Q: My 2½-year-old daughter has a strange habit of referring to me by my first name. It’s rather unnerving to hear this little person thanking me and using my first name. Naturally, I'm glad for her good manners, but can you tell me if this is a sign of growing up or being around too many grown-ups? She is an only child, and I’m divorced. During the day she’s cared for by her father or her grandparents.
A: Your daughter probably hears her father and grandparents refer to you by your first name during the day. Ask the adults who care for her during the day not to refer to you as Erica but as “your mother” or “your mummy” (or whatever you want to be called). You didn’t indicate whether she also calls her dad and her grandparents by their first names. If so, that may well be where she began the habit, and you will need to let them know that you don’t want her using that form of address with you. If not, point out to her that she doesn’t call them by their first names, and that you would prefer it if she called you mummy. If she calls you Erica, don’t respond; wait until she calls you mummy.

If I may editorialize a bit, I am sympathetic with your aversion to having young children call respected adults by their first names. However, the first-name pattern is widespread in our culture, not only with young children. Place an order over the phone and someone says, “This is Carol”; look at an item in a store and a clerk says, “My name is Todd, if you need help.” Some child-care teachers have the children call them by their first names (especially the younger workers). So you’re fighting a cultural pattern as well as expressing a personal preference. Good luck.