The girls both did it. I figured Elli learned it from Sammi but when I saw my friend’s two year old daughter do it, I knew it was a stage.
We were at their house for dance lessons and the two year old called her mom by her first name. Her response sounded like my own: “My name is Mommy.”
As each of the girls have gone through the stage of calling us by our first names instead of Mommy or Daddy, Brent and I have had different responses. I thought it was hilarious when Sammi first started. I laughed and played along. After a week or so she was back to calling me mommy most of the time. But Brent resisted it. He fussed at her about calling him Daddy. To him there was an element of rejection in her refusing to call him Daddy. But after a couple weeks of trying out his other name she was back to calling him Daddy, too.
When Elli hit this stage Brent started to get frustrated again. Even though he knew it would pass it still bothered him. He wanted Daddy to mean something special to her and because it was special to want to call him Daddy. We have joked about them calling us by our first names but never really thought anything of it.
Then a few weeks ago I read on Good Morning Tennessee’s facebook page about a little boy who was found wandering across a main road in the middle of the night. He was found by a truck driver who called the police. The boy didn’t know his name or his parents’ names. He looked to be four or five. In that moment I was so grateful for every time one of my children has called me by my first name. I have peace knowing that they can tell a police officer their own name, first and last, as well as both their parents’ names.
But wait, there’s more!
Part of their cognitive development allows children to attach multiple labels to the same object. It’s how they are able to know that this is a dog, it’s a golden retriever, AND her name is Sofie. If they were only able to have one label per object they couldn’t group like objects together, understand color or shape, or use adjectives.
By having the ability to assign multiple labels to a single object, children build a depth of knowledge instead of just a wide range of knowledge. Theses connections help them learn new information faster and more efficiently because they can link new info to old knowledge.
So when your child starts calling you by your first name, just smile and know their brains are hard at work sorting out relationships, hierarchy and their own place in the world. And it’s okay if you respond, “My name is Mommy!” We’ve all done it.
How did you respond the first time your child called you by your first name?