Q. I’ve noticed that my son and daughter-in-law are always yelling out my three-year-old grandchild’s full name every time he misbehaves. Now, he seems to cringe every time he hears his name. I am concerned that this is causing him some real problems. Do you have any suggestions?
Your concern is justified. Children react very strongly when they hear their name spoken or see it in writing. Rightly or wrongly, children tend to identify themselves with the way their names are used. When a child’s name is used in connection with misbehavior, the child begins to believe that he must misbehave in order to get attention. His self-esteem diminishes, and a negative self-concept is likely to develop.
One of my primary rules for child guidance is that the child’s name be used only to honor the child, to acknowledge appropriate behavior and to give positive attention. Children who hear or see their names in relation to good behavior instinctively develop patterns of good behavior. Likewise, they acquire high self-esteem and a positive self-image.