Labels can Hurt


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt


Of all the hurtful, demeaning names we –far too often—cast at our children, this seems to me to be one of the most hurtful, and one that follows a child into adulthood. If a child hears this often enough, he will believe it always.  No matter how gifted he may be in other areas of life, he’s just a klutz. Bull in a china shop. Can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.


What we believe must be the truth about ourselves becomes a deeply-rooted image.  We do our children a great disservice when we say , “Oh, she’s the funny one, and she’s the quiet serious one.”  Or “He’s artistic.  She can’t draw a straight line.” Or, Well, her gift is (fill in the blank)  but we haven’t figured out her brother’s gift yet.”

We really need to be careful how we label our kids, even if we think it’s positive. Comparing them to each other is just not profitable. Each one is different from the other. Each one comes packaged with a unique personality. A first child has the advantage here, because all the rest of the children will inevitably be seen in terms of what “Oldest Child” has been, said, or done at the same age.  I don’t buy 100% into the “oldest–middle–youngest–child” theories. It’s impossible to have a set model that never alters from one child to the next.  However, there are times, with my clients, when I have asked, “So where do you come in birth order?”  Inevitably they will tell me what I was already thinking.

The thing to take with you from this little ramble is this: Please be careful about the labels you sew into your children’s  perception of themselves. Those perceptions can last a lifetime. They can keep a child from trying something just because he’s always been clumsy.