labeling is disabling…

Children learn what they live. When children live with criticism, they learn to condemn themselves and to find fault with others. They learn to doubt their own judgment and to disparage their own abilities in life. Individuals who are often criticized learn to distrust the intentions of others and live with a continual expectation of impending doom.

The easiest way to make children feel that there is something wrong with them is to criticize them. Criticism does not result in learned responsibility. If we want our children to learn something different from experiences, we need to give them information for future use without derogation. When we label children, we disable them.

6 thoughts on “labeling is disabling…

  1. Wonderful!
    I just had a long discussion with a friend who has ADD about this topic. It is so sad how people are being disempowered from a young age because they are a little off the median

  2. What are your thoughts on “labels” that aren’t negative but can have negative effects?

    Last night, my DH and I were discussing the effects of the “big brother” label. Our second child is about to be born, and my DH has said to him on several occassions, “we are the big guys, we have to help out mom and the baby. We have to take care of them.”
    We have been talking to him about what he can do as the big brother, helping out, etc. Now, we’re wondering if this will build up expectations in his head that we may/may not have of him, and create pressure.
    Note, too, my DH and I are both first children and definitely live up to the label, completed with our own struggles with too high expectations.

    • I think that labels which are intended as positive can still be limiting and extrinsic in how they are perceived and therefore have negative effects. Have you read Siblings Without Rivalry? Faber and Mazlish present the idea well, especially in how this can be effected with siblings.

  3. Along the lines of Acacia’s comment, I’ve been having a LOT of moral conflict lately about calling things that Kieran does “kind” or “not kind.” We play with two sets of friends who both use the “kind” or “nice” labels for behavior, and I picked it up after hearing it all.the.time.
    But it just isn’t sitting right with me. All I keep thinking is “well, if we say he’s kind for doing X, then he’s going to put 2 and 2 together to figure out we’re judging him as “not kind” when he does Y.”
    I don’t want to do that.
    (sigh)

  4. Boheime, I’ve gotten a few suggestions for that book before. I’ll have to check it out, finally!

    Dionna, I struggle with the same thing. I hate using words like “nice” “kind” and “good.” They’re so over-used and vague. I don’t think they serve a very good purpose in the way they are used so we try to avoid them by being more specific. Still, we use them sometimes… “try to use nicer words when you are asking for…” It’s a work in progress!

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