Today is New Year's Day and what better day than to start with a resolution! Resolution #1: I will try to stop labeling my child and other people's children. What exactly is my definition of labeling? Well, it's taking any term and associating it with your child. For instance: ADHD, social, shy, outgoing, loud, pest, brat, smart, etc. We all do it, and even I am guilty of it too :)
You may be thinking "okay, so this post is going to be about labeling kids as smart or dumb, I've heard all of this before, blah, blah blah." Well, as much as you and I have heard about labeling, after a run in with some children yesterday, I had to start today's post about it because I still see it happen all.the.time. Yesterday at the mall I heard a mom tell some of her friends that her child was shy as the little girl hid behind her. I wonder if she will think she is shy if her mom keeps telling people this?
And why am I against labeling? Well, if your child is shy as in the example above, and she keeps hearing people around her say she is shy, she is going to start believing it and acting like it- even if she's not shy. This could lead to her acting like it even when she's not feeling shy, and become more socially withdrawn because of it.
It can even be taken it a step further on a serious note, say with a diagnosis of ADHD or hyperactivity. If your child is showing ADHD signs and symptoms, or is even diagnosed with it, then parents tend to use the label as an excuse and the child starts believing it. The children start using these labels as crutches and excuses to get them through life. A school aged child will say, "Oh, I failed that math test because I'm ADHD."
It's easy to fall into this pattern as a parent because it helps us explain our children, but if we can maybe try an alternative, then it will let our children grow into whatever they want to be, without us labeling their personalities for them. For example, if your child is hiding behind you when you introduce them to someone, just state the obvious, "Oh, my son all of a sudden decided to run behind me- his name is Matt. Maybe later if he feels comfortable he will come back out." You are basically just stating the facts, no labels and no mention of the word 'shy.' If we don't label our children, then they feel more free to express themselves and won't feel ashamed for something we are labeling them with.
I know we all label at some points here or there without realizing it. How about you, any stories of your kids or your friends/family's kids and how they have used their label as a crutch or to excuse their behaviors?
(image from world news at: http://wn.com/labeling_kids)