Why Do Parents Use the Third Person When Talking to Toddlers?

Talking to toddlers in the third person has captivated many. This article looks to uncover why parents do this. Let's delve into the psychology of parental communication to find out.

Language acquisition and socialization may be the cause. Toddlers are learning language at this time. By using the third person, parents show subject-object relationships and help their children understand grammar.

Why do parents use the third person when talking to toddlers?

Parents use the third person when talking to toddlers for various reasons. It helps grab their attention and creates a playful atmosphere. Plus, it encourages certain behaviors - who wouldn't want to eat their vegetables if Emma does? It can also boost language skills and promote self-awareness.

Overall, the third-person approach is a great tool for parents. It captures children's attention, assists language growth, and encourages self-identification. So, why not give it a try?

Psychological perspective on using the third person

Talking to toddlers in the third person has a distinct psychological perspective. It can affect their cognitive and emotional development. It allows toddlers to understand themselves better, and even boosts their vocabulary.

It also enables emotional regulation. Parents can distance themselves from intense emotions and help children gain an outside perspective. This fosters empathy and understanding of other people's emotions.

Research suggests that the third person can help toddlers regulate themselves and make better decisions. One parent used this technique to help their toddler during a temper tantrum. By asking "Why is Ben feeling so upset?", it allowed their child to reflect from an outside perspective and express themselves calmly. This strategy helped the parent effectively communicate with their child.

Sociocultural factors influencing parental language choices

Parents tend to speak to their toddlers in the third person. It reflects sociocultural factors like cultural norms and practices, which prioritize politeness and respect.

"Mommy loves you" instead of "I love you" is a way to emphasize their role as caregivers and authority figures, whilst expressing affection. The third person also helps maintain formality and politeness, as per societal norms that emphasize hierarchical relationships.

Plus, intergenerational transmission of language practices often plays a role. It may have been passed down from parents or elders in the community.

Benefits and drawbacks of using the third person

Chatting with toddlers using the third person has benefits and drawbacks. Let's take a look.

  • Using the third person helps tots grow self-awareness. By hearing their own names and pronouns, they comprehend they are separate people. This increases their identity and improves their self-esteem.
  • It can aid language learning. When parents consistently use proper nouns and pronouns, toddlers learn to use them correctly. This enhances their vocab and comprehension.
  • Lasty, talking in the third person can make a gap between parent and kid. Though it may seem odd, it helps provide advice without sounding too strict. It supports a more collaborative approach and boosts open communication between parent and child.

Yet, it's important to remember that using the third person shouldn't replace talking to the toddler directly. Mum and dad should still have conversations with their toddlers using the first person when it's suitable.

To make the most of the third person when conversing with toddlers, try these tips:

  • Be gentle: Talking softly and kindly while talking in the third person gives off a warm feeling and reassurance to the little one. This makes for a secure and open communication atmosphere.
  • Stay consistent: Consistently using proper nouns or pronouns when speaking allows toddlers to build on their learning patterns. Repeating this habit helps them learn language quicker.
  • Encourage imitation: Parents can say, "How does mommy/daddy do this?" This encourages imitation and gives children the chance to watch actions and behaviours as they expand their knowledge.

By following these tips, parents can use the third person when talking to their toddlers and support language development, self-awareness, and a nurturing relationship. 

Alternative approaches to parent-child communication

Unconventional strategies for parent-child communication are gaining recognition. They offer parents new ways to connect and engage with their young ones, fostering deeper understanding and promoting healthy development.

These strategies include:

  • Mindful Listening - Parents fully engage in dialogue to better understand their child's thoughts, feelings and needs.
  • Collaborative Decision-Making - Involving children in the decision-making process. This encourages independence, critical thinking skills, and a sense of ownership in choices.
  • Nonviolent Communication - Open and honest communication while respecting each individual's needs and emotions. Using empathy as a guiding principle helps to create trust and understanding.

Alternative approaches to communication can lead to stronger bonds with children and nurture emotional intelligence, problem-solving skills, and self-confidence. Parents can explore these possibilities in their own parenting journey.



It's fascinating to think about language, cognition and socialization. Gaining knowledge helps us better support our children's growth. So, use this knowledge and adapt your parenting skills! Encourage conversations that build empathy and understanding. Keep an open-mind to new discoveries in the field of child psychology.

Don't miss out on insights that can shape our relationships and communication. Let's actively participate in this journey and incorporate findings into our daily interactions with our little ones.

Together, we can continue to unlock the wonders of child development and provide a nurturing environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ 1:

Q: Why do parents use the third person when talking to toddlers?

A: Parents often use the third person when talking to toddlers as a way to reinforce language development. Referring to themselves in the third person helps toddlers experience language from different perspectives, which can enhance their understanding and learning.

FAQ 2:

Q: Does using the third person confuse toddlers?

A: No, using the third person generally does not confuse toddlers. In fact, toddlers are quick to grasp the concept of "mommy" or "daddy" referring to themselves. They understand that it is a way of communicating and connecting with others.

FAQ 3:

Q: Is using the third person considered a form of baby talk?

A: No, using the third person is not considered baby talk. Baby talk, also known as infant-directed speech, involves using simplified language and higher pitch. Using the third person, on the other hand, is a conscious choice by parents to facilitate language development.

FAQ 4:

Q: Are there any benefits to using the third person when talking to toddlers?

A: Yes, there are several benefits to using the third person when talking to toddlers. It helps reinforce language skills, teaches them sentence structure, enhances their vocabulary, and encourages social interaction as they learn to converse using proper pronouns.

FAQ 5:

Q: When should parents transition from using the third person to first person language with their toddlers?

A: Parents should gradually transition from using the third person to first person language as toddlers reach around 2-3 years old. By this age, they have developed a good understanding of pronouns and are ready to learn and use first person language more consistently.

FAQ 6:

Q: Is it necessary for all parents to use the third person when talking to their toddlers?

A: No, it is not necessary for all parents to use the third person when talking to their toddlers. Every child is different, and parents should adapt their communication style based on their child's needs. Using the third person can be one effective tool among many for language development, but it is not the only approach.