34 answers

3 Year Old Says "Me" Instead of "I"

This may sound trivial, but it is very frustrating. Our 3 year old son uses the word "me" in place of "I". For example, he will say, "Me hungry" or "Me hurt my eye". We were told by speech pathologists that it will come and we have politely corrected him by saying it right-"Yes, I'm hungry, too." . He just doesn't seem to get it. I hate to constantly correct him and risk discouraging his speech. What do 'ya think?

What can I do next?

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Well my 2 year old uses her name instead of I. I am not to worried. I know she will eventually learn proper English...now is not the time, she is just to young.

He will outgrow it. it is perfectly normal. when my daughter was 3 (now 34) I was trying to correct her and when I said, "I'm hungry," she said, " You too?" enjoy the cuteness of it, it is one of the last baby things that will be in his speech. L.

I am a preschool teacher of 4 year olds. I have also worked with 3 years olds before. This is something some kids do. Some more than others. I would have to agree with the speech pathologists. Whenever he uses me instead of I just repeat what he says, but use the correct form. I have had to do this with some students and it usually takes awhile, but in time he should come around and start using the correct use of the word "I". As he gets older say 1st grade and is stilling doing this incorrectly then I would be concerned and ask the speech teacher or someone else at his school.

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Does he by any chance watch Elmo? My 1st son loved Elmo but we had the same problem as you. He also referred to himself in the 3rd person...he was hearing, "Elmo wants to learn to dance, too!" The next thing we noticed was his r's and l's were turning into w's! And he had been saying them correctly. My husband saw Baby Bear (also on Sesame Street) and this was how he talked! We stopped watching S.S. before my 2nd child started developing and he (along with my 3rd one) has done just fine, and without those problems. Weird, huh?

I agree with the therapist, it will come. Mothers want their children to come out of the womb perfect and it doesn't work that way. Try and remember he is a baby at 3 and he will learn to speak correctly in time. Be patient.

Sounds to me that it is just the age and what they do at that age. Just keep using correct english yourself and he will soon change over. It is the age.

My 3 yr old. daughter has a speech problem. i only understand 25% of wat she says if i'm lucky. I've been working with her an if we are talking she will say nana instead of banana. when she does that i will sit down by her so that i'm on her level and repeat banana until she will say banana. She has other problems do, but seems like everytime i do that with her she gets it. she slips up every now and then but i tell her what it should be and she corrects herself. that might work for you. be sure to annuciate.

Well my 2 year old uses her name instead of I. I am not to worried. I know she will eventually learn proper English...now is not the time, she is just to young.

try to overlook it. Now when he's in elementary school you may think about correcting him. I will correct itself, pending no other speech problems. My daughter would say "I can't know why something something something" and it was just my first reaction to correct her and tell her to use the word don't instead of can't, but I stopped myself and realized how cute it was. She won't talk like that forever so I just need to let it be and enjoy the moment.

Many kids go through this stage as part of their vocabulary development. Don't correct, just continue to speak the right personal pronouns as you are doing, and eventually he will too.

I never heard a kindergartner say , "me do this" He will outgrow it.

While annoying, especially when your child seems to be far more advanced in other areas, it is completely normal. Our daughter who is 3 1/2 now did it as well and then all of a sudden, she stopped. I can't even place a date on which she started using I instead of Me! It will happen for your son too...patience :)

I wouldn't worry too much about it. Have him repeat what he has says but replacing me with I, just like you taught him to say thank you and please. Make sure others at home are doing the same to help him along. At 3 they usually want to be "big boys" and pointing out that big boys say "I" can make a difference. Reward him with stickers or some other small goody for a week or so. It'll soon become a habit for him to use the correct term.
It might take a while, but he won't be going off to college talking this way.
Good luck!
L.

Three year olds are not necessarily quick to pick up on the subtleties of echoed speech.
"Me hungry."
"Yes. I am hungry, too."
They just don't hear the difference. So, if it's a real concern for you, you might want to actually point it out and ask him to repeat the correct phrasing.
"Me hungry."
"I am hungry."
"Uh-huh. Me hungry."
"No. Say 'I am hungry'."
"Yeah. Me hungry."
"Say, 'I am hungry'."
"I hungry?"
"I am hungry."
"Yeah. I am hungry."

And then, of course, when he does use the correct phrasing, you laud him with praise. It makes him feel good about himself for mommy to be so proud of his accomplishment and it is much easier for him to pick up the corrections the next time.

I am a preschool teacher of 4 year olds. I have also worked with 3 years olds before. This is something some kids do. Some more than others. I would have to agree with the speech pathologists. Whenever he uses me instead of I just repeat what he says, but use the correct form. I have had to do this with some students and it usually takes awhile, but in time he should come around and start using the correct use of the word "I". As he gets older say 1st grade and is stilling doing this incorrectly then I would be concerned and ask the speech teacher or someone else at his school.

Speech is a developmental thing. It will get better in time.

I had the same problem with my daughter and I just kept correcting her and she stopped doing it. My correcting her didn't seem to bother her. She finally got the point. Now that she is four I just come out and tell her how to say things. She will say things like "I liked-ed it." Putting an extra ed at the end of words. I just say that's nice but it is liked not likeded and she will say oh I liked it and I usually say much better. I think she wants to speak properly. My daughter is very sensitive so I wouldn't worry about upsetting him.

Hi, I understand the frustration, wanting our child to get it right away or with in a month or three. I feel if you correct the speech with out making it an issue the child will begin to understand. One thing I would not make the child repeat the correct speech he will get rid of the me eventually in his time, at least he is verbal & you can understand his words & needs which is really great for a three year old.

Some of the things my three year old girl says I cannot understand & my six year old girl translates, my 18 month old daughter grunts & points until she gets what she wants, I always say "up" or "drink" after 6 months she finally said "up"! Each one of my children develop differently but all have so far been developmentally appropriate. I hope this helps, K. D

he is three, leave him alone. when he is a teen and you overhear him using derogatory or offensive language, you will wish that he was still so innocent as to not know his correct grammar. when he starts pre-school, his teacher will probably work with him on it, and you can all worry about it then. otherwise, take a deep breath and try to see it as sweet, and not irritating.

Didn't read your responses (yet) but wanted to suggest having HIM repeat it correctly and then set up a little reward system (stickers, kisses/hugs, etc.) when he DOES say it correctly on his own (of course discuss this aspect with him and then be sure to implement it). Is he your oldest, middle, or youngest? (Just wondered if you've been through the 'teaching to talk' thing already or if this is the first time). I LOVE teaching kids to talk and did it with our 4 and now starting on the 3rd 'Grandbaby'. Our youngest (now 20) used to say, 'This is my's' (instead of 'mine') and 'Is this you's?' (instead of 'yours'), and our oldest grandson (6) still adds 'ed' onto most words even if there's a different form (e.g. 'sleeped' vs 'slept', 'goed' vs 'went', etc). They 'come of it' at some point. Don't sweat the small stuff (and it's ALL 'small stuff'! LOL)

I agree with the others, he's only 3, don't worry about it, it will go away eventually. My DS used to say the next day for tomorrow and the day before for yesterday. I'm not sure where he came up with those but he did eventually start using tomorrow and yesterday.

Do not worry about it - the sp is right . It will come eventually. While you should continue to correct by example, be sure not to correct overtly or especially in front of others (except by example). I say that as less of a concern of discouraging speech and more a reminder to you and the rest of us reading this that no one likes to be corrected in front of others. It is embarrassing and believe me, correcting others (you and other adults included) is a habit that your child will pick up more easily than correct grammar. It's also a habit that is a lot harder to break than poor grammar.
Enjoy how cute it is for the time being - a lot of the cute things they say (at least like that) will start to fade soon.
Me wish you luck

I have a 3 year old daughter and am in the same situation. Coming from a family of educators and speech therapists I was very concerned about my daughter's grammatical errors. After consulting with my whole family, I was informed that this is how children acquire proper speech and grammar. They advised me to not correct her, but to repeat what she said back to her using the proper grammar. The point being that after hearing it enough, they will get it. Remember, they are learning a whole new language along with learning life. I was warned that these things take lots of time - some times months or years. So our kids could be 4 or 5 and still making grammatical mistakes. I'm in my 40s and still don't get grammar correct all the time....

Hi M.!
I just want to encourage you to not worry about this. My sister's son did the same thing, using me for I, her for she, and him for he when he was 3 or 4 also. He is 5 now and I know he's got that worked out. I would not stress over it. I don't think there is anything wrong with your son!
Cyndi

I agree with the speech pathologists - keep using correct grammar and he will eventually get it. I used to teach preschoolers and had a 2 year old that always said "you" when talking about herself and "I" when talking about others. It was confusing at first but we got used to it, only occasionally corrected her and of course used proper grammar ourselves. She eventually got it.

Also realize that this isn't any indication of your child's intelligence. The little girl in my class was very smart, one of the brightest in the class.

Don't worry, be patient and he'll get it!

Completely normal! You could ask him "do you mean I am hungry?" and emphasize the I. We went through the same thing with our 3 soon to be 4 year old, he will get it!

P.S. The english language is one of the hardest languages to learn!

I would say listen to your pathologist. My son who is now 7 also did the same thing and I responded just as you were instructed to do and he picked it up. It did take some time but it happened. When you correct your son by your responses to you (ie: him: Me hungry. You: Yes, I'm hungry too.) will not discourage him but to teach him.

Right now it is developmentally appropriate for him to be using "me" for "I". I teach Kindergarten and have had students do the same thing until halfway through the year when they finally get it. As long as you repeat a correction to him (without letting him know that it is a correction all the time) and continue to model for him, it will eventually come. Do not get upset, this is just his development process. Eventually you will miss his cute baby talk, so enjoy it while it still lingers! :)

Hi M.,
The SP is correct. Children's speech development can be annoying, but the biggest help is setting a great example.
Watch your speech too, I can not tell you how many people, when talking to young children refer to themselves in first person. "Mamma will get that", "Mommy loves you"...I have even been known to do that! They will grow out of it. How many 7 year olds talk in first person? Not saying that it will take that long, but I have seen Kindergarteners whose parents don't set the example and think its cute.
Try playing a game with him. Take a picture of him and write the word "I"... Have one of yourself to set the example. Tell him, sometimes your name can be a "super I" (be real dramatic with the super part... don't they just love that?)
It happens to me sometimes as well" Say, " "I" like peas", (or whatever) then repeat with 2-3 other things. Then point to him and say, What is it you like __(name)____? Remember, when you are "super I"!" Let him try, guide him and have him point at that letter "I". Play the game with him once a day, then in regular conversation, if he slips back to me... you could say, oh my...where is that "super I"!!!
Best of luck!

He will outgrow it. it is perfectly normal. when my daughter was 3 (now 34) I was trying to correct her and when I said, "I'm hungry," she said, " You too?" enjoy the cuteness of it, it is one of the last baby things that will be in his speech. L.

My two year old grandson does the same thing. I think it sounds like a child from England myself, don't worry about it. He will be saying "I" before ye know it!

Don't stress over it and he won't either. I corrected our daughter, again, never making a big deal about it. I would even say "I am hungry. Can you say it?" and have her repeat it the correct way. I would never do that in public, never wanting to draw attention to it (again, no big deal and she never got upset about being corrected). She is now 6 and entering 1st Grade at the top of her class. We still correct her when needed on prounincing things correctly, or now that she's learning to spell. If you never correct, how will they ever know?

Good luck and God bless!

Hi M.,

My son did this until he was in 3rd grade. He had had speech therapy for 7 years due to a submucous cleft palate, which really doesn't have anything to do with the saying "me" part, but he had some other difficultes as well, including with expressive language. I wondered if he would ever get it right, but finally it disappeared in 3rd grade. So please don't worry about it right now. It's great that you have a speech therapist so that you know he is progressing like he should. It makes a huge difference having them at your fingertips.

All my best,
D.

Relax. The more you make an issue of it the more it will turn into a game. Saying it right isn't the samething as constantly correcting him. Just keep doing it but don't let it bother you as much. It's just a stage. I don't know about his socialization but it might be useful to have him in preschool so he can be around other kids. Peer groups have a way of magically correcting issues like this.

Hi M.,

I do not in anyway want to invalidate your concern, as I am a mom of two boys, I homeschool, and proper grammar is excessively important to me. I however would have to agree witht he speech pathologist that at age 3 it is not a battle worth fighting or upsetting yourself over.

I would continue to with love correct him, but not worry about it. He will get it eventually. Now if he is still doing this in say first grade, and is not doing it to be "cute", like my 7 year old does, then I'd say get some workbooks, and play some language arts games with him. At this stage he is fine. I always sweetly ask my son, how old are you? He says with a smile, "7, Mommy." I said, I thought I had a big boy. I love when you speak in your 7 year old voice, please do so.

Three is an interesting age, not quite babies anymore, but they aren't grown either. He will as with three boys already I'm sure you know experiment with many things, especially words we find less than admirable. So using "me" where he should use "I" is ok for now :) I hope this was encouraging.

hes three! kids dont know the proper knowledge of words yet. its normal. ive worked in day care alot any many children refer to them self in third person, among other cute things... they hear us talking and try to imitate. dont sweat it he will figure it out

If you use proper speech patterns, your child will pick it up. If you speak to him in baby talk that is the way he will respond. My son wne through this as well and eventually it will stop on its own... like potty training and thumb sucking. No worries, let it slide for now.

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