Labeling Children

Ms. Nicole, PreK Team LeadUncategorized

There is a lot of controversy about labeling children but of course I have my perspective on the topic as everyone respectfully does. I recently heard a parent speaking about another’s son that “he is a bad boy. Just a bad kid”. This hurt my heart to say the least. Everyone is cable of love if shown love. Explaining that your child made a “bad” or “poor” choice is VERY different then calling your child a “bad boy” or a “bad girl”. Explaining why those particular choices where “bad” will help them understand certain choices or actions to be either “good” or “bad”. If an adult says to a boy that he is “bad boy”, that child will not understand that what the adult actually means is that the child made a bad choice.

Children need guidance and that is why as parents and adults we need to guide them in a positive way and advocate for them. We need to be aware of our tone of voice and choice of words. Calling a child “a bad boy” or a “bad girl” can affect their self image and self esteem in a negative way. If the child grows up hearing this over a period of time they may take on that label. Labeling could in fact make child believe that he or she is “bad”. Why would we ever want to take this chance? I do NOT ever want to see a child grow up thinking that about themselves. Of course we all make mistakes as a child and still so as an adult. Emotions can sometimes cloud our judgement and in those times we make poor choices. Choices that hopefully we reflect on and have those events become learning experiences. Teaching our children that our actions can affect others is just as important. A simple explanation such as; “If I call a friend a bad name it can make them feel sad or angry. I don’t like to feel sad or angry. I like to feel happy. I don’t want someone else to feel sad or angry.”



Feeling shy, angry, guilty, sensitive, sad, surprised, shocked, hurt, happy, are some of the many emotions a young child may be experiencing and I feel that it is important to take time and help explain about how and and why they may feel that way. Even as an adult there are times that I struggle with channeling my emotions in the best way so I can’t expect perfection from children... or other adults for that matter hahah. Connecting with your child (as a parent, uncle, aunt, teacher, etc.) that you yourself have felt that way before. Sharing personal stories by touching their hearts will build that trust and create bonds. When explaining and sharing I believe that labeling the emotion is important so that can understand. This will help to better label their feelings or emotions NOT their personality. Many times our actions are linked to the way we feel and helping a young child understand that is priceless. A skill that they will utilize for the rest of their lives.