There is Power in a Name

From as far back as I can remember I have always been my mother’s “Sweet Pea”.  It is a name that I was given very early on and even now at the age of 33, no matter who is present, if my mother is in the room, I am “Sweet Pea”.  There was a time in my life, probably around my teenage years, that I wished my mom did not refer to me as “Sweet Pea”.  She would do it in front of my friends and it would embarrass me to no end.  Now, since I’ve become a mom I realize that it is a name given to me by someone who really loves me.  So I embrace my Sweet Pea-ness (hence the blog name). 

Names are a funny thing.  Whether it’s the name that is on your birth certificate that carries a meaning, for example, my actual name Serene, means calm and tranquil or the names that you were given as you walked through life, names hold a lot weight. And they hold even more weight depending on who is calling you the name. 

So imagine my shock when I hear people call children names like, “Bad”, and “Idiot”, and those are the light versions that I’ve heard.  I have actually heard on more than one occasion, a mom call her daughter a b-tch.  Seems crazy, doesn’t? Imagine my surprise witnessing it firsthand.  

What would warrant such a name? Even more importantly, what impact will a name like that and others have on the child on the receiving end? You see, it has been my experience that the name given sets the bar for the expectations that you have for your child.  And children, because they have a desire to please, tend to live up to the names that they are called, especially when the name is being said with laughter, as I have also heard them be said as well. 

When a 2 year old says “NO” and throws a tantrum on the floor, are they really being “Bad”? Let’s take a further step back and define BAD (not the Michael Jackson version, but the one with the negative connotation).  The Webster Dictionary’s definition of “bad” is failing to reach an acceptable standard, inadequate or unsuited to a purpose.  

So now let us revisit that tantrum-having 2-year old and let’s also set the record straight.  I am NOT by any means a fan of tantrums.  They cause scenes, interrupt the moment, and most of all, make us as parents and caregivers look like we don’t have things under control.  I know that I had all kinds of thoughts and feelings when my boys fell out on the floor wailing in the store over a darn box of cereal (they pick the best times, don’t they?).  But I knew that it was age appropriate and more importantly, I knew that THE BEHAVIOR was bad, not the child.  The BEHAVIOR did not reach my standards, THE BEHAVIOR was inadequate and unsuited for the purpose that I have for my children.  

What we need to realize is many of the behaviors that children display are either age appropriate, a sign of a need, or imitated behavior.

When a child repeats the  behavior or the same patterns of behavior over and over, it’s usually because there has been no reaction performed to stop that behavior or they are simply living up to what was expected. 

Only two things can come from negative name calling.  You end up having a child who fulfills your prophesy of the name you have given them OR you end up having a child who resents you when they grow up and realize that the name you had once given them was not at all who they are.  

As the adults we are the ones who set the bar.  High standards birth great expectations and great expectations birth great children.  We have to give our children great names to show them that we expect great things.  

Talk to you soon!

Share with me: What names do you call your child? Do the names line up with your expectations? 

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