Let us stop the “Name Calling” – Patricia Osobase
I have decided to write on ‘Name Calling’ because I am beginning to see the effect of it in the lives of some of the children I work with. Name calling has a strong influence on how children affected see themselves and people around them.
For professional purposes, I will not be mentioning any institutions or names of children whom I have witnessed suffer from name calling. Everyone wants an obedient, intelligent, easy going and healthy child. There is nothing wrong with these aspirations for a child. However, we tend to forget that nurture and nature make up what a child will grow up to become. In my opinion therefore, the environment in which a child is nurtured combined with other genetic factors will to a large extent affect the social aspects of a child’s development summed up in the word “behaviour”.
Here are some factors that can affect a child’s social development.
- People around the child – whether at home or outside the home
- Television programmes
- Parents/guardians attitudes, language and behaviour towards themselves, their children and other people
- Relationship between spouses and the rest of the extended family
- School environment
- Living conditions of the child and home environment
When you put the above factors together, we may begin to understand why certain children behave the way they do. The above factors may result in either wanted or unwanted behaviour. A priest once told a story at a Christian seminar I attended, about how a father kept calling his son “Good for Nothing”. The child imbibed the name and started acting in a careless manner. He always thought to himself, “I am good for nothing, so nothing good is expected to come out of me”.
This made that child act in that manner thus frustrating his family and people around him. Everyone agreed with his father and that became his name either said or thought. One day, a colleague of the boy’s father came to the house. The father of the “Good for Nothing” boy was not at home. The man then asked the boy for his name. Unconsciously, the boy answered, “My name is good for nothing”. This baffled the man who came to visit. The next day, the man mentioned the incident to the boy’s father who broke down in tears. The father of the “Good for Nothing” boy had suddenly realized how much damage he had done to his own son. Remember, God gave you that child to care for. We have no right to label these children or call them names that destroy them. Our job is to bring out the best in every child. If your child is good for nothing, then you have given him or her that good for nothing bit in you – it is as simple as that. This means, in you, there is some good for nothing character. No matter how negative the situation, always see something positive about a child and praise and encourage that aspect of the child’s behaviour.
Again, the foundation is key. How are you bringing up a child? Is it in an environment that is conducive? What role have you played to support a child’s development? Are you the absent father, mother, guardian who lives in the same house but is invisible? I have worked with children who have social and behavioural issues. Most of them believe that no one cares and everyone has labelled them either useless, a failure, a weakling, and shameless. Sometimes, we even believe that the child is well able and so, we ignore the child in our own ignorance.
This article is an appeal to every adult to make an effort to support children who have been given negative names.
We can all do our bit by:
- Changing that negative view and name
- Giving the child the benefit of doubt
- Listening to the child and making a conscious effort to understand and believe the child.
- Making an effort to change environment situations that could be affecting the child e.g. home conditions
- Using positive language and encouraging others to use same.
- Empowering the child by giving them responsibilities showing that you can trust them.
- Spending quality family time together e.g. outings, watching TV together
- Going to religious activities together i.e. church
- Celebrating any little achievement by the child
- Making the child and individual children feel special in their own way
About the Author:
Patricia Osobase (B.ED, MILR, MA) is a highly proficient and supportive educationist. Her main goal is to ensure that every child and individual she comes in contact with is able to achieve their maximum potential. Patricia has a first degree in English Education from the University of Benin, Nigeria and Masters in Special and Inclusive Education from Roehampton University, London. In addition, Patricia also has Masters in Industrial and Labour Relations from Delta State University, Nigeria. She holds an International Diploma in Early Childhood Studies from the Montessori Centre International, London and a Diploma in Psychology from DCA London. Patricia was a directress at Rainbow Montessori School, London for over six years where she rose to become the deputy manager of the Sherriff road nursery and Special and Education Needs Co-ordinator for the four schools. Presently, she is one of the pioneer parent trainers for the new government programme called CAN Parenting. She also lectures part time at the Rainbow Montessori Teachers College, London. Patricia has recently set up an educational organisation called Happy Achievers Limited which engages in training and working with children. Before joining the educational profession, Patricia worked in the banking industry in Nigeria in various managerial capacities. Patricia is blessed with a lovely daughter.