Monday, December 10, 2007

The Danger of Stereo-typing or Labelling Children's Personalities or Character


Parents need to know how detrimental to family success and sibling harmony it is to assume that one child is a domineering person, and another a jealous one, or another a weak one. While it is good to correct these traits when they come forth, they should not "assign" them to the child. This is very dangerous because it re-inforces the idea to the child that they "are" a certain way and have certain qualities. Soon, they will find these negative characteristics making a stronghold in their lives, which could have been prevented if corrected.


One of the problems of labelling a child is that it feeds that quality back into his mind. If he is told he is very very smart, very, very fragile, or very, very out-going, he/she may learn to manipulate that belief to his/her own liking. For example, the out-going personality label can become an excuse for being rude, loud, obnoxious, and unrestrained in action. I had a visitor to my house one time, whose child was told she was "out-going," even though she was under five years old. While we visited together, the child dismantled my bookshelf and took apart my doll collection, leaving clothing and shoes all around.


Another set of parents labelled their only 4 year old son "curious" and "explorative." While we ate dinner together, he got under the table and roamed around the feet of the adults. Later on, he locked himself in the off-limits-to-guests storage room. We had an awful time getting him out.


Yet another experience I've had, was a visit from a family who insisted their child was "talented." He proceeded to bang obnoxiously on the piano, drowning out our conversation.


Over the years I've endured imaginative children who took the beds apart in the children's bedroom and stacked them up in different ways. I've hosted hyper-active children who increased their physical activity once they got in my house, slip-sliding down the hallway, or swinging from a door. I've had parent-labelled "sensitive" children who were impossible to please. Once they complained to their mothers about me, it resulted in an unfair label against me. I was told I was not child-friendly because I would not let them race through the house and knock down things or spill the adult's drinks. I also had a small guest who insisted she didn't like the food I gave her or the plate upon which it was served. "Would you mind getting something else?" asked her mother. "She is very sensitive."


....to be continued.



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