【Solving the Mysteries of Parenting Q&A】 My child calls everyone mommy. Should I correct this (age 18 mos)

March 6, 2019

* This article is an excerpt from and is edited based on a lecture & consultation meeting titled “How to Communicate with and Discipline Small Children” which was held in 2018.

* This article is also available in Japanese and Chinese.

 

Q: I am concerned that my child calls everyone “mommy”. (18 months old)

 

My child has recently learned to pronounce the word “mommy”, but when he wants something or wants somebody to do something, he calls out “mommy” even to other people. I’m not sure whether I should correct him or just let it pass.


 

A:

At 18 months, toddlers do not yet have the capability to pronounce names, so they will use the only words they know when they call out to people. When toddlers learn that they need to say “mommy” or “daddy” to get someone’s attention, they will use “mommy” for anyone. When they do, you should gently point out that they should say “auntie”, etc. not “mommy”. It’s okay if they can’t say it yet. They will learn gradually, and they will be able to say it one day. I think teaching him to say “hey” would work, too. You should teach him the right word to use when calling out people.

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Advisor: Ms. Ryoko Uchida (Psychology Counselor for children)

 

Since 1973, Ms. Uchida has continuously held counseling sessions at multiple healthcare centers in Tokyo. In addition, since 1998, she has presided over «Momo’s Room: Child Counseling». Ms. Uchida is also a part-time lecturer at Rikkyo University, a widely known advisor for NHK Radio phone counseling on children’s psychology and a speaker at numerous seminars at child care circles, parents’ groups on truant children, and kindergartens across Japan.