At times we are quick to assign a label to the actions and behaviors of children. Whether the label is positive or negative it can have lasting effects on their future. Words like bossy, violent, mean, disruptive, out of control, or attention seeking are thrown around as easily as boy and girl without a thought of how that label could seep into the spirit of a child and create a self-fulfilling prophesy. The tendency then is to focus on the negative labels and begin to look for confirming evidence of it. This can prevent us from seeing any positive qualities in a child (which by the way they ALL have) and limit our expectations of them. I wonder how many CEOs may have been labeled bossy or activists labeled disruptive as children?
Even positive labels like smart, talented, confident or kind could also put children in box that may be difficult to live up to consistently because after all, they ARE children. As they grow and develop their personalities and characteristics may change and they may resent the label even if it is a positive one.
In some cases medical diagnoses are necessary to allow children the support and accommodations they need in order to achieve their best. Be clear, there is a difference between a diagnosis and a label. But in the same way, a diagnosis should not define a child- it’s not “who they are”. A diagnosis only details what is needed for them to achieve. It is the same as being near-sighted, which allows for glasses in order to make up for the medical deficit of blurry vision.
All children deserve the chance to develop into the amazing human being they were created to be. We MUST be careful with our words, labels, expectations, and the overall effect we have on them. Be careful with labels, and only when necessary, label the behavior or deficit…NOT THE CHILD.
Let’s make sure we aren’t killing the spirits of children before they ever get a chance to emerge. We don’t have the right to do that. So to be safe, let’s just not label. When we see a behavior that is counterproductive, let’s teach a skill or behavior to replace the unappealing behavior. That is our job anyway…isn’t it?
Food for thought, now you do the dishes! 🙂