Do you remember any labels you had back in your school days given by your parents or teachers maybe in college by your lecturers or some not so good friends!
Well we all know about the negative impact of using labels like ‘dumb’, ‘idle’, ‘lazy’, ‘useless’ ‘fool’, ‘ugly’, ‘you are a failure’ etc. Children start considering themselves as the labelled person from their early childhood and it stays with them for a lifetime. Hence whenever you feel like using one of these labels, take a deep breath and change the words into short sentences to convey what you really want him to learn out of it all.
On the other hand, labels like brilliant, smart, clever, genius, star, handsome, beautiful, you can never fail, always a topper, etc. are equally dangerous. These are the ones which are taking children towards not accepting any different outcomes than the desired one. In this case also, they turn themselves into labelled person which makes them vulnerable to any kind of defeat. Such children blame themselves for the unfamiliar outcome and might go into depression subsequently. On the contrary, children, who blame the system, parents, surrounding etc. might turn as ‘non performers’ in any field they choose. They are happy doing nothing and blaming anything/anyone except themselves. They become experts in raising their hands and using ‘blame it on others’ approach.
Labels are self–destructive, hence we must try and avoid using these. Thumb rule for expressing your feelings is to use the words which convey exactly what you want to say. The word chosen
should be in proportion with the performance. It should not exaggerate or degrade the act of the child. At times the child might forget the reason or the lesson behind the label but will never forget the word itself and the anger/overjoy connected with it. Intent should be to change the behaviour not the person itself.
Some better ways to say could be: ‘You have achieved marks in proportion of your efforts. You can put in little more efforts next time to score better’. OR a loving pat on the back, while you eyes and actions in sync say, ‘You did well, your efforts were worth it’. ‘You are good in applying tricks and do faster calculations, that will definitely help you in competitive exams’ OR ‘You are topper in the class, good achievement!, but be open to accept and appreciate if your friend with half a percent less this time, becomes a topper next time. Instead of commenting on external appearance, specific comments will stay with the children forever.
Like: Your smile spreads happiness in the surrounding. Your eyes are so full of life. Your empathy is always reflected in your behavior. Your sensitivity towards the environment, is something everyone can learn. Your inquisitive nature helps you learn better. etc.
What is equally important while you give the label is looking into yourself and questioning “What
makes you give that label to the child?” and Did the child really get what you were trying to convey?
So is it that the child is compared to ‘your’ expectation as a parent? Or is it that you see yourself in your child and would not like him/her to go through what you went through? When you stamp a label, do you teach the child how to deal with it as well? So next time you give a label to the child, question yourself if the child needs to change or is it you who needs to look into somewhere deeper and change…