Thursday, March 1, 2007

Labeling Children
There are a wide range of ways we can label children, it happens all the time. We are a society built on placing labels on everyone and everything. He is gifted, she is talented, beautiful, smart,
obese, skinny, good, bad, rebellious, the wild child, the good little girl, perfect, wealthy, poor, over achiever, under achiever. This list of labels are endless, the impact on a child can result in
negative feedback.
Boxing a child and placing a label on them, limits their abilities, they begin to live up to this predetermined image. Some might say positive labeling is a good thing. I don't see it quite that
way. What are encouraging is disappointment and failure.
My second born sister was very attractive, my mother referred to her as the pretty one and the lazy one. She was much more then pretty, she was intelligent and clever and creative and she had a wide range of talents. unfortunately she lived up to the expectations her label set. All emphasis placed on her looks, to much so that she died at a early age of a food eating disorder, a mix of anorexia an bulimia. She left behind two sons. My youngest sister labeled, wild child, was indeed just that, wild, troubled and fulfilling what limited expectations were placed on her.

As a parent myself, I saw my own children's weaknesses and strengths, and I fought the instinct to label. I Have talked to my children many times over about their lives and hoped to instill the message that each of us is born with a gift and it is up to us as individuals to explore and find the gift within. I'm falling into another cliche moment " I lived my life now it is time for you to live yours. The time to make choices , grow and reach out and explore what the world has to offer, or even more what you have inside of you to offer the world.

Children are very perceptive, positive labeling can possibly create a child becomes overly concerned with justifying , trying to prove the label is worthy of them. They begin to feel a false sense of security, feelings of worth of such recognition becomes questioned in their minds. This can create quite the opposite effect and high ahievers might fail in theier presumed expectation.

Then we have the opposite a child who is negatively labeled and then they begin to see themselves as the failure, they are presumed to be. Compliment and labeling are very different. Children should be encouraged and complimented for their achievements to instill in them a desire to grow in a positive way. Placing an emphasis on the nurturing of a skill, and less on closing the door on it.

To foster the growth of a child that is well rounded and uncapped one must encourage through words of are who you to dare to be.. the spirit is free to meet all challenges.

Love understand when the world does not!


L. said...

Thank you for your recent comment on my latest post. I agree with you that labeling children is not the best idea, especially when it limits their potential. Please understand that my blog is designed to be the musings of a "mommy" who loves her kids, sees them for who they are, and wants to share some of our experiences in hopes that they will somehow benifit others. I would NEVER share the "labels" I have placed on my children with them, and I make a very conscious effort to help my children develop ALL of their gifts individually.

By the way... just curious... How did you find my site?

Lisa :)

MommyHAM said...

Hiya, thanks for stopping by my place!

couple of thoughts on labels:

There is harm in labeling as you portrayed, as in boxing a child into something.

However, labels are sometimes warranted for healing, i.e. diagnosing a problem, fostering a strength, etc., and I think that labeling on a continuum is much healthier.

I have to respectfully disagree with you on the positive labels having all negative effects though. While I was labeled a lot of positive things growing up and did suffer from some of the insecurities and doubts you mention, it wasn't because of the labels granted me. Rather it was because of conditional attentions that always remained at bay regardless of which hoop I jumped through. My labels have given me strength and courage in times when there was nothing else to cling to.

Children with out voices said...

Hi Lisa,
I didn't mean to appear to sit in judgment, you have such a lovely family and I know the energy that goes into raising children. The results are staggering on the effects of childhood and abuse and my goal is just to encourage people to think outside the box.
In raising of my own children, I saw many signs of sibling rivalry and I thought to myself, I treated each child the same, I gave them save love, why it is they are so competitive for my attention. There are subliminal messages that we sent out subconsciously simply because we put expectations on our children due to their place within the family, oldest, middle child baby. Though it is normal to have higher expectations due to the age differences. A child only wants one thing unconditional Love and thats what encourages the rivalry. A mothers job is 27/7 and the most important job a parent will ever have is to raise a child to adulthood and have them become a good part of society and it is the most difficult and under appreciated one on earth

Children with out voices said...

Thanks for stopping in mommyham, I respect your opinion as well. On the larger scheme of things,in a intellectual arena, I still believe labeling caps a individual. Children and adults alike who are able to challenge a label this might actually feel inspired to meet that challenge. Unfortunately we are not identically created and looking at the average individual, I can see where even labeling of illness and disease can be a problem.
Example 3 children born with the same complications. The first child has very little expectations, do to the seriousness of the illness, the parents holds little hope for the child, second child is labeled and limited this is as good as it gets, this is the expected the norm and the third child is fostered in a warm and loving atmosphere encouraged to do more, be more. Which child succeeds beyond societal expectations? That is a good question there is no doubt that individuality plays a role on whether a child will under achieve, over achieve or meet the expected goal. My brother was hospitalized for several years, spinal injury they told him he would never walk.
Label "Spinal Injury" paralysis from the neck down it was glim at best. His attitude and his struggle to gain some use of his body was long and rigorous. He could have given up, could have accepted instead he met the challenge.
Just like ""child abuse there is no one right answer.
My last thought on it is most mothers are pretty perceptive and they can see the differences in personality, from the time the children were put to my breast I felt the differences between them.