Sunday, May 16, 2010

Don't pigeon-hole me!

I'm learning that it's not a good idea to give children labels -- even positive ones. No one's behaviour is ALWAYS a certain way. We all have the potential to behave in a number of different ways and to have a variety of interests.

For children, these labels can become a license to behave a certain way. "Mommy thinks I'm always too rough, so I'll just live up to her expectation of me". Labels can also limit a child's potential. Saying that my son is the musical one in the family might discourage my daughter from ever taking an interest in music. It may seem more efficient to throw our supporting $s behind the child with the most talent, but who says you have to be the best at something in order to get anything out of it? There's room for more than one musician in this family. Labeling might also cause my children to be jealous of and resent eachother -- "Mom and Dad think you're the smartest". Labels allow us to stereotype people instead of treating them as individuals. My daughter is not "a bully". Her behaviour was cruel, but she is still a unique and wonderful person who deserves to be treated with love and respect. And lastly, nobody likes to be labeled -- I roll my eyes everytime my mother tells me that I'm the outspoken and insensitive one. I'm not like that ALL the time. I have a sensitive side that I'm nurturing and I'm learning how to be kinder and gentler with my words. She'll never see this so long as she holds on to these labels.

It's not easy to stop labeling because I think we take pride in figuring each other out and being able to show how well we know one another. But's it's something that has a profound impact on my children's self esteem and on how I treat them. Yes, this is yet another habit I have to curb. Hell, I do this to my partner as well. Luckily he's quick to let me know when I've done it. :-) I think it's easy enough for me to spot with my kids too. No more labeling!

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