What if Your Child Calls You by Your Name

Are you concerned because your child calls you by your name? Find out the reason behind this behavior and how to change it.
What if Your Child Calls You by Your Name

Last update: 26 March, 2022

You always take for granted that your little one is going to call you “mom” or “dad”, but one day, you hear something different and you get completely disoriented: Your child calls you by your name!

What just happened? Why don’t they call me “mom”?

The first thing you should know is that this is a frequent occurrence and that it happens in many families. In most cases, it’s a temporary occurrence with children, but in a small percentage of them, it may be related to an emotional or behavioral problem.

Here, we’ll explain better what it means and what to do if your little one surprises you by calling you by your name.

Why does my child call me by my name?

There’s no single reason why a child decides to call you by your name, but it may coincide with several factors. Let’s take a look at them!

Your child copies other family members

Children learn by imitation. This is how they acquire skills, develop, and grow. One of them is speech, which is learned by repeating sounds and words that the child picks up from their environment.

As your little one hears other family members call you by name, they may copy this and start doing it themself. It’s not because they don’t know your role, and it’s by no means a lack of respect. They’re simply exploring the use of everyday language.

You need to understand that the child doesn’t yet understand what the word “mom” means. They only understand that people call you by other names and imitate them.

You use your name to talk about yourself with the child

Related to the above, if when you interact with your child, you use your name to refer to yourself, your child will do the same.

Teach your child to enunciate the words “mom” or “dad”, use games to encourage them, and you’ll see that little by little, they’ll correct this situation.

A mother scolding her daughter who's crying.

Your child feels an emotional distance from you or your partner

If the child has a caregiver who replaces their parents, they may choose to call that person “mom” or “dad”. This happens when parents are absent a lot because of their work and their role is taken over by a grandfather, grandmother, babysitter, etc.

It also happens in the case of divorce, when children feel angry with one or both parents.

In these cases, if your child has decided to call you by your name, it’s best to start giving them more quality time: Spending time together, being present when they need you, and explaining that you’re not going to distance yourself from them in any way. All this will help the child to solve their emotional problem, which they show through this attitude that reveals the distance.

“Both parents should continue to listen closely to their children’s problems, provide emotional support, help them with daily chores such as homework, and maintain rules and behavioral expectations.”

-Elyse C. Salek, MD-

Your teenager is showing rebellion or is searching for their identity

When your teenager decides to call you by your name, don’t be alarmed! It’s just a way for them to discover their identity and learn that, although they’re part of a family, they’re individuals with their own characteristics and tastes.

Also, many times, young people try to see what happens if they transgress unwritten rules, such as calling their mom “mom” and affectionately acknowledging her role.

What to do when your child calls you by your name?

Reactions to this situation are varied and depend on the dynamics of each family. If it happens to you and you feel uncomfortable with the situation, we  recommend that you do the following:

  • Don’t laugh or celebrate the child’s playfulness, but don’t get angry either.
  • Explain patiently and lovingly that you are their mom and that’s what you prefer to be called.
  • Don’t respond when they call you by your name and do so when they call you mom or dad.
  • Don’t support this whim with gifts or giving him treats so they’ll call you what you want them to call you.
A mother holding her son's hand as they walk in a field.

Presence, affection, and quality time

As we’ve seen in this article, the question of why your child calls you by your name has several answers.

But regardless of the reason behind the situation, the key for this not to become a problem is for you to be present and always available to explain with affection the reason for things.

In the old educational models, when children asked “why?” the answer was simple: Because I told you so. Fortunately, those times are over and today education is based on listening, interaction, shared time between parents and children, and respectful and loving explanations.

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The contents of You Are Mom is for educational and informational purposes only. At no time do they replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. If in doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.