I and You: Mastering Personal Pronouns

I and You

Amie is now in the habit of formulating descriptions of what she is doing as follows:

“Are you x-ing?”

She does this in imitation of our own (incessant) questions about and observations of what she is doing, and because she is struggling with the personal pronouns “you” and “I” and “me”. Once in a while she will use “I,” as in “I know” and “I see,” but these are stock phrases and I doubt she is really getting it there. 

We are trying to teach her about the relativity of the personal pronoun, in 4 ways:

  1. First of all, we’re trying hard to wean ourselves off the proper names, off saying, of myself, “Mama hurt herself!” or, to Amie, “Did Amie hurt herself”? It’s tougher than you would think. Strange, because it’s not like we started talking like this to one another or to other adults! Still, when talking with Amie, we revert back to it if we don’t make an effort to be conscious of it.
  2. What helps us, and maybe her too, is to emphatically point to ourselves when saying “I”, and to the addressee (mostly her) when saying “you”.
  3. Each time she uses “you” for “I,” we tell her gently: “Amie should say: ‘I am writing.’ Can you say it?” Then she repeats it, correctly, and we praise her. This works best with requests: “Amie should say: ‘Can you pick me up’. Can you say it?”
  4. When correcting her, if possible, we take her hand and make her point to herself while stressing the “I” or “me”.

An embarassing example

In any case, we were looking through the board books at the (crowded) library today, and I can see that Amie is pooping. She sees me seeing this and pronounces, loud and clear:

“Are you pooping?”

Of course she meant “I am pooping.” But no doubt every child and parent in the room took it quite literally! What could I say, but: “Shh, Amie, we have to be quiet in the library!”

It’s time to set those personal pronouns straight, don’t you think?

(Then we nearly clogged a toilet with the g-diaper!)

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  1. Hi Rebecca,
    Amie does that too: “Amie is cold also too,” etc. Maybe kids love the exaggeration of it? It’s great to read the lit on language development. I hope to report on some of my reading on it soon.
    Thanks for stopping by!

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