Yes, even I sometimes talked about myself in the third person. Jakubko is going on a train ride. Ema wants a snack. Tomáško is cooking soup. Nelka wants to eat. Adam will play. (And now fill in your name) wants to know why it was sometimes like this with him/her.
So, a lot happens with a child between the first and third year. In addition to starting to walk and expanding their horizons in “faraway lands” (such little “Marco Polos”), they also advance in their thinking and speech development. The child’s thinking develops and gets a new dimension. Sensory-motor thinking (focused only on what children touch and can perceive with their senses) transitions into the pre-conceptual thinking phase. This means that ideas of objects and things begin to form in the child’s head, even though they are not currently seeing, feeling, or sensing them. However, these are called pre-concepts – because such a small child, for example, does not understand that there can be multiple same red lines with seven dots. If it were to see another line on the grass again, it would think that it is still the same line. Time imagination also does not bother the child very much. Although at the end of the third year, the child partially realizes what is happening now and what will be, it “doesn’t care” about what happened before (except for traumatic and highly emotionally charged events).
Do you know why children love mirrors at this time of year? It’s not because they admire themselves and love their reflection. The reason is completely different. In the mirror image, there is a super friend or buddy. It laughs when they laugh and does what they like. A great playmate! You can have so much fun with it! If you put a child in front of a standing mirror, they may go look behind it to see who’s waiting for them. At the age of two years (12-24 months), this perception changes significantly. A very important process called self-awareness occurs. Beulah Amsterdam, a well-known proponent of the classic rouge test, studied how children react to themselves between the ages of 3-24 months. He found that from 14 months old, children began to admire themselves or were embarrassed and avoided the mirror image. By 20 months, this behavior was visible in 75% of children. However, by 20-24 months, it was clear that 65% of children recognized themselves in the mirror. At the age of 24 months, it could be confidently said that the child was aware of themselves. How did Amsterdam study this, and what is the famous rouge test? A large dot is drawn on the child’s forehead or nose. It is best done with a nice bright red lipstick to ensure that the child notices it. The child is then placed in front of a mirror. It must be ensured that the child looks at themselves in the mirror at least three times. If the child continues to look in the mirror, they are having fun with their mirror friend, or if they are not interested in the image and do not notice the dot, it means that they are not yet self-aware. However, if they look at themselves and point their hand to the opposite side of their real self, trying to wipe off the dot, it is a clear sign of self-awareness.
According to psychologist Michael Lewis, self-awareness requires the progress of thinking described above. Thus, a child’s thinking must move from primary representations (what we perceive through our senses) to secondary representations (representations of what we currently do not perceive through our senses). The child must be able to see himself/herself as an object of knowledge, awareness, and understanding. He/she must be able to create a certain mental image, a picture of himself/herself, and connect primary and secondary representations. This means seeing oneself in the mirror and realizing that it is him/her. Researchers such as J.B. Asendorpf, V. Warkentin, and P.-M. Baudonnière used the same test as Amsterdam to determine if a child can synchronously imitate other people. Self-awareness is a fundamental prerequisite for a child to be aware of others around him/her. Despite the fact that all children who recognized themselves in the mirror, and even those who did not recognize themselves, realized that someone was imitating them and were able to cooperate, only the children who recognized themselves in the mirror were able to participate in synchronous imitation of the model. However, the model must be a stranger, not a family member. The researchers’ hypothesis confirmed that there is a strong relationship between self-knowledge and synchronous imitation. Simply put, a child who is not aware of himself/herself cannot imitate another person at the same time.
The child’s self-awareness is then manifested in speech, and children begin to talk about themselves in the first person. The mystery is solved! According to Daniel Stern, the child moves from subjective self to verbal self. However, it is interesting that during this period, the child thinks that his/her identity is also his/her possession, such as his/her toy. Self-awareness is closely related to the period of defiance and the child’s attempts at independence. Erik Erikson, a well-known developmental psychologist, developed a theory of human personality development consisting of eight stages. According to him, a person must solve a certain conflict, gain a certain virtue in each stage to move on and be mentally healthy. If not resolved, it may result in a crisis in his/her personality, and an unresolved childhood conflict may manifest even when he/she becomes an adult. It can be likened to a game. Completing the task in a given level will move the child to the next level, with better “weapons.” The game lasts a lifetime. The period in which we wonder why a child talks about himself/herself in the third person is the second level, and its main task is to resolve the conflict between autonomy (independence) and shame and doubt. This is also related to the period of the first defiance (we all remember the “defiant adolescents” in the second period of defiance).During the period of the first defiance, we were also quite negative towards our parents’ demands…