The Cost of the Label

Tagging a child is something that has been done from the time that we remember. It is natural and accepted, but is it the correct thing to do? 

We’ve often heard comments from parents stating, “My child is fussy” or “My child is so stubborn.” While these are intended to be harmless nuggets of information merely mentioning a particular trait that may have been observed by the parent, these have the power of becoming the way a child perceives himself or herself. For a parent, this might be a comment made in the heat of the moment, definitely not something that they believe in, but a tiny nagging voice in the child’s mind may hold on to this label. 

Impacts how they are perceived

Labeling a child can affect how others see them. In general, most of us tend to use negative labels and we also discuss these. While the parent begins with a clean slate every time, the same may not hold true for even the most non-judgemental outsiders. As a result, their perception of the child may alter and may also have an effect on how they treat the child. Labels and tags also have an impact on how their peers perceive them and this can have a huge impact on a child’s self-esteem. 

Lowers the expectations

When children are given labels and specifically negative labels, those lower the expectations that people have from them. This demotivates children and also affects their self-confidence. There may also be situations where they do not get the opportunity to perform or achieve something that they may be good at, only because of the negative perception associated with the label. On the other hand, positive labels like “You are so smart” or “You are always first” may pressurize them to conform to the expectations at all times. This can create unnecessary stress. 

Children believe what they hear and if they have a tag associated with their personality, at some point they may eventually begin to believe that that is who they are and the tag will start to define their actions as well as their reactions. To avoid this, it is imperative to try not to label a child, instead, we could label the behavior. It is important to remember that whether a label is positive or negative, it is bound to impact the child in some way or the other.