The importance of teaching your child that grown-ups have names
It seems like an absurd question to ask a parent, doesn’t it? A parent’s kneejerk response might be “Yes, of course my child knows who I am. I am his mother, I am his father. He recognizes me right away and knows exactly who I am, he knows everyone in our family.” That is most likely true but does your child know who you are outside of who he is. Let me explain. Babies and toddlers very quickly learn and recognize the people in their small world. They learn to trust and love these familiar faces and embrace the circle of friends and family that his parents have surrounded him with. But ask yourself these questions. Does my child know my name? What about grandparents, aunts and uncles, close friends, babysitters? Is everybody referred to as Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle John and Aunt Denise or perhaps just Auntie and Uncle? If your child is found wandering, getting them back to you will be much faster if they can communicate your name to law enforcement.
Teach your child the names of the people he encounters on a regular basis. You may decide that you don’t want them to refer to Grandpa as “Doug” but teach your child that the people they love have first and last names.
Child Find suggests you start with the parent’s or guardian’s first and last names. Even if they have different last names, your little sponge of a child will quickly learn. Next, work on the names of people that are closest to them. This may include older siblings, step siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles and daycare providers. Take it slow. Make a game out of it with rewards or perhaps pick a familiar musical tune and write some lyrics to that tune that explain the name of the people he knows. Try making up a rap beat to sing to your child that contains all this information. Rhyming is not important, your child won’t notice. If you rock your child or have cuddle time, this is a perfect time to sing your song and talk about these special people in your lives. You could one day hear your child singing and rapping this information mindlessly while they play. Perhaps as the child gets older you might choose to include phone numbers, the city or town you live in and their street address.
It is surprising how quickly even a 2 year old will respond correctly when asked what Grandpa’s name is. It may take a while to get full names memorized but start slow and increase the names as you go. Hearing you say the names frequently is a great way for them to absorb and memorize and could one day become invaluable should they need to provide it to law enforcement if they become lost or stolen.