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My 5-year-old daughter talks a lot. But when she does, it's in second person (i.e. the second person in the conversation), saying what she expects I would say when directed towards her. So she's not speaking in first person, but in first person from my perspective.

For example, she will say "I will take you out to a bike ride this evening" pointing to me, as she wants me to say that. What she means is "Let's go on a bike ride," or "Take me on a bike ride".

Another example is when she wants to comment on the temperature of something. She will say, "Is it hot?" as though I am asking the question, when in reality she is trying to say, "It is hot".

It has been rather cute, so we kept going like this for the last couple of years. But she is growing up now and needs to talk normally in social settings.

How can I get her to speak in first person and also is this indicative of a larger problem?

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    Third or second person? – Carcigenicate Feb 15 '18 at 22:06
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    Have you been encouraging this? With my kids, some of these things are so cute that it's hard not to. Typically with a little one, when something comes out a little off, and I want her to know the correct way I repeat it back (as a question) using the proper tense, pronunciation, etc. – JimmyJames Feb 15 '18 at 22:08
  • Although she is now 5, I would recommend that you plan for some alone time with daddy. Studies (albeit with younger children) have shown fathers to have more significant impact on a child's language skills than mothers. Even if it has no effect, you'll have some quality time with your daughter. – Nikola Novak Feb 16 '18 at 5:27
  • "It has been rather cute" - making this kind of mistake sometimes is cute, but if done too often, it is simply plain wrong usage of language and would have needed earlier correction. Now that she is 5yr old, you should even more forcibly go and correct her every time she uses it. Head up, she obviously got the grammar right, so she's on the right track. – rexkogitans Feb 17 '18 at 9:53
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As of now, there's no indication of a larger problem. You haven't been correcting her so looks like she's just continuing it out of a habit.

Start responding to the questions in the correct manner, not in the manner she expects. I mean, if she says 'Is it hot ?', you should reply 'No it's not , do you think so ?'. When she says 'I will take you out to a bike ride this evening', respond with 'Yes, where will you take me ?'

After a while, she'll get a hang of the conversation and slowly learn how to talk. It's a gradual process. She may get irritated that you are not answering her in the manner she's used to but you need to keep reminding her this is how big girls talk (I know she's too young but toddlers and young kids tend to think of older kids as role models so this would probably help her change).

If there's no improvement even after you try this for a few months consistently, you can take her to a doctor/therapist.

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It is normal for a 3-4 year old to exhibit 'play talk' when learning pronouns, but at 5 years old it should have started to remediate. There are several techniques that we use in therapy, including play based therapy, to correct issues like this. You can research some of these techniques online or you can go see a Speech Therapist to learn techniques to use at home. At our clinic we focus on teaching parents while also working with children. A few sessions or a discussion with a Speech Therapist is the best resource for your child.

Hope that helps.

Edit: Sorry, I should have mentioned that my wife is a Speech-Language Pathologist and we own a Speech & Occupational Therapy clinic that specializes in Pediatric speech therapy.

  • I wouldn't recommend starting speech therapy before they have exhausted other options. I would try what svj recommended in another answer for a while, see if that works. – Nikola Novak Feb 16 '18 at 5:20
  • @NikolaNovak I would disagree strongly--visiting a speech therapist first would allow for intervention as quickly as possible if needed, before these patterns become too ingrained. The earlier intervention is sought and implemented, the better the outcome for the child. – Marisa Feb 16 '18 at 12:45
  • Very good for pointing out that you - as therapists - are teaching parents, not children. In this case, it's the parents' fault that the 5 yo child still makes these mistakes. – rexkogitans Feb 17 '18 at 10:20

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