COMPARING AND LABELING CHILDREN
- August 19, 2017
- Posted by: admin
- Category: Doon Activities
Question: I frequently tell my “naughty and hyper” son that he should be more like his sister and our
neighbor’s kid, they are such good kids. Why does anything I say does not get through him? Why
doesn’t he listen to me and behave?
Answer: Noticing differences in one of our kids with other, to their cousin or even the neighbor’s child
can be tempting. It’s natural for parents to notice such differences of their children and using them as a
comparison. But parents should make a conscious effort not to label traits in their kids that they are
not proud of, especially in front of them. Like saying (‘He is our family’s Tortoise.’). Even the positive
labels can discourage the child from even trying a task assigned to them. (Here is our singer/dancer, he
is our gymnast). Think of the differences between the children as neither positive nor negative but as a
reminder that every individual is different or unique who has his own strengths and weaknesses.
Following are the things you can do differently:
Appreciate that every person is different and unique and has his own strengths and weaknesses.
Identify the strengths of your child and encourage each child to use those strengths. Become aware of
the child’s weaknesses also and expect some failures which are a learning step in a child’s life.
Change the topic when our other family members or neighbors start comparing children even if your
child is coming out a winner. RESIST the urge to join in: this is the behavior where you don’t value each
child as an individual.
Praise your child’s specific actions instead of labeling your child as “Our family cricketer” say “That was
great batting you did today. You really kept your eye on the ball.”
Avoid setting up kids for competition against each other. Example: At the dinner table your two sons
are very different from each other. One finishes his meals in time and other takes hours to complete
his food. Avoid setting the competition of “The one who finishes first will________” this discourages
the children and who knows he might even get up from the half eaten meal.
Typecasting… Think about the impact this will have on your kids when one is type casted as a “bully”
and other as the “victim”. Parents immediately defend the younger one which comes instinctively but,
sometimes this may not teach the younger child to defend himself and he would take always come to
you to help him defend.
Attempt to free your children from all the labels which are given by your family, their friends, their
teachers and even themselves.
When Rahul and Rohan’s fighting was getting Grandpa irritated. Their mom, Sheetal, overheard
their Grandpa ask, for the third time that day, “Rahul, why are you being such a bully to your
brother?” Sheetal said, “Rahul can be kind. He likes to share when Rohan asks politely.”
Strive for a home environment free drom the pressures of the outside world.
After achieving disappointing score in math test 10 year old Kiran exclaimed, “I’ll never score
well in math! All my friends are better than me! I hate math!” His dad replied, “Some of them do
have good scores. But with your patience and a little more practice I’ll bet you can achieve much
more in the nest test. Let’s practice after dinner at home, just the two of us.”
Ask for inputs/opinions from each of your children.
Sanjana’s family decides to go on a weekend trip. She took this opportunity to ask all the
children starting with the youngest: “Ronak, can you think of two places you would like to go for
a weekend trip?” Then she turned to her middle child.”Aisha, what do you think?” Then the
eldest son got a turn and Sanjana said.”Let’s make a list.” By asking everyone’s opinions she was
able to satisfy each child’s needs.
Reflect upon the influence of your own birth order and the impact of gender and other roles from your
own past. You may be unintentionally be reinforcing certain stereotypes you grew up with and help
you change the pattern.
Try not to get stuck up on “boy things” versus “girl things” or to favor a child because he or she is the
only boy or only girl in the family of many siblings.
Constant attention to your kid’s problems might actually reinforce negative self-image and can bring
about the behaviors you want to change.
Look carefully at what you consider your child’s weakness; what may at first appear to be a weakness
may actually be strength for that particular child.
It’s often hard to accept the fact that your children are different from each other as well as from you;
learn to appreciate that everyone succeeds best using his or her own particular strengths.
Keep in mind that what you perceive as a weakness at a young age may be a slight developmental
delay that will disappear without any intervention at all.
Rohan is unable to tie his shoe lace. So his father bought Velcro-strap shoes for Rohan whenever
possible. Both his parents have simply been frustrated trying to teach him to tie his shoes laces.
Rohan’s father was confident that eventually Rohan will be able to tie his laces. So they waited
until Rohan was more coordinated to try again. One year later….. Success!
Have a conversation with your partner about all the expectations you put on your children. Each
parent wants their child to have everything that they enjoyed in their childhood. Also, each parent
would like to avoid all those unpleasant, difficult and painful memories for their child.
Remember that each child is a unique individual who has his own strengths and weaknesses. Every
parent should acknowledge that consciously before they try to labeling or typecasting children which
comes naturally to parents.