Lose the Labels
Life always feels so much easier when we are in control and know what’s going on. Parenting is no different. There are times along the journey, when we feel like we get it; we understand what makes our kids tick. Those are often the times when we assign a label:
She’s my Math Wiz.
He’s my little devil!
There goes my little tattle tale – never happier than when she’s ratting someone out!
That one over there is my hockey superstar!
There are other reasons for assigning labels; it might be to boost our child’s ego by highlighting a strength. Maybe it is parent-focused: projecting our own insecurities onto a child or feeling super proud about the child’s achievements.
Whatever the reason, assigning labels to our kids really doesn’t help anyone. Identifying a child by a specific strength or weakness denies the development of the child’s whole self.
In her book, The Self-Esteem Trap, Polly Young Eisendrath observes that,
“Good self-esteem… is a by-product of doing some things well, accepting your limitations (when you need help from others) and seeing the good consequences of your own influence.”
In supporting the development of children’s self-esteem, parents need to look at and love the whole child (strengths and weaknesses). When children feel that their only value is to be good at academics or athletics, they may seek to hide all the other components of themselves from their parents. This can be quite troubling when the “hockey star” would rather try basketball but doesn’t want to let her parents down. It can lead to huge self-doubt when the academic genius doesn’t win the scholarship because someone else was smarter. If someone else is better, what is this child’s value to himself and his family?
Your questions today:
Are you labeling your kids on a regular basis?
Is your youngest regularly referred to as “the baby”?
How are labels impacting your child’s way of belonging in your family?
Spend the week noticing whether there is a lot of labeling going on in your home. If it is just once in a while when you are confidentially venting to a close friend, then that’s likely not a problem. If labeling is making its way into your everyday interactions, it is likely time to lose the labels.