I knew I was supposed to be wearing a stern face but I just couldn’t stay away from the laughs as my daughter repeatedly screamed, ‘Mommy Ayaya, Mommy Ayaya, Mommy Ayaya’.

You see, she had recently started calling me by my first name which she pronounced as ‘Ayaya’, instead of ‘Eniola’. However as I worked at discouraging her by either ignoring her whenever she went on the first name basis or by repeatedly saying, ‘No! mo-mmy’ as I pointed to myself, she decided to meet me half way by switching to ‘Mommy Ayaya’.

Honestly, the way she danced up and down as she sang (not called) out my new name was totally hilarious and cute all at once. But I had to quickly caution myself with this word, ‘Keep laughing and as her pronunciations get better she’ll be screaming ‘Eniola’ to your face’.

Now, this is a phase which most kids pass through. They take the liberty of calling their parents by their first name because that is what everybody else calls them. Some people may laugh it off, believing the child will get over it with time. However, though this may be true, I would still encourage you to correct it…

…because whatever is permitted and counted as ‘funny’ just may somehow stick with the child..

When I say ‘correct’, I don’t mean you should get into a power struggle with your kid where you’re both screaming your ideas at each other. For example your kid screams ‘Ayaya’ and you scream ‘Mommy’ back. Far from it! Also, don’t confuse or misinform your kid by telling him that you’re not ‘Ayaya’ because the truth is that you are both ‘Ayaya’ and ‘mommy’.

So instead, I would suggest you try out the following…

  • Some people will suggest having everyone refer to you as ‘mommy’ in front of your kid because at that age he is wired to imitate what he hears and sees without filtering. However, I may not necessarily take it that far. What I would suggest is that you and your husband be on the look-out for every opportunity to use the terms ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’. For example if daddy wants the kid to pass along something that belongs to mommy, instead of referring to the thing as ‘that’ or ‘the’, he should instead use the possessive term, ‘mommy’s’. For example, ‘please pass mommy’s cup’ as opposed to ‘please pass the cup
  • Regularly play the mommy game by for example pointing to your toes and saying, ‘Mommy’s toe’, then you point to his own toe and say, ‘T’s toe’; point to mommy’s head, ‘mommy’s head’, then point to his head, ‘T’s head’; point to mommy’s food, ‘mommy’s food’, point to his food, ‘T’s food’, and on and on the game can go
  • Draw his attention to other kids calling their moms ‘mommy’.
  • Refer to ‘mommy’ as your special name which nobody but him gets to use. So, when he calls you by your name, calmly tell him to use your special name. Also let him know that hearing that special name come from him makes you very happy.
  • Do lots of reading with him and be sure to deliberately point out the mommies and daddies in the storybooks.
  • Involve his toys in mommy/baby role plays involving the repeated use of the word ‘mommy’. For example, a part of the play could involve baby bear calling out ‘mommy, mommy, mommy’ when he wanted to reach the cookies on the table.
  • If your kid still insists on the first name basis, politely tell him that he will only get your attention if he uses the special name.

So, what’s your own take on kids calling their parents by their first names? Is it a habit you have indulged, ignored or discouraged? Do share with us!

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