Label side-affects…and I am not talking the sticky glue on the back.
By: Posted On: 2009-04-03

Everyday we work with different sort of labels, whether it be labeling people or being labeled and us trying to deal with it.

If you work with kids, such as in a school setting where you are an authoritative figure (or even if you are not), you have probably seen a child and instantly labeled a child with the dreaded “TROUBLE” word. Are we justified in doing so however? Are we essentially hurting the child?

I admit, I am not perfect and I have done this before too. Doing playground supervision, you sometimes see a boy (girls too) and instantly wonder what the heck kind of trouble he is going to get into THIS time.

But I am reminded of one little boy that I work with when I help out at the elementary school. He just switched to the school this year, and at the beginning of the year he was instantly labeled as trouble by more than one person. At first it seemed like everyday we were dealing with him and sometimes it just became tiring and I just didn’t want to deal with him. We weren’t even giving him a chance.

Over the last year, I got to know this young man more on the playground and discovered a new side to him. He had a sweet innocent (ok, no child is innocent ;) kidding. ) side and was actually fun. I started learning that he could be really fun and well behaved, and suspected that causing trouble might be his way of getting attention sometimes. Heck, looking closely now, it wasn’t even always his fault but the other kids that just got him in trouble.

I am not saying he doesn’t cause trouble anymore, but it is nice knowing his fun side too now. It went from me being the one labelling him and always wondering what he is doing now, and in return him hating me to know him running up to me and having a conversation with me on a regular basis with a nice high-five to end it as he goes and plays.

I think part of the change in his attitude was the change of his label personally.

We need to learn to stop labeling kids and see behind the mask. Why is this child getting into trouble? Is he really THAT bad? What issues are involved here?

By labelling them, we are just setting them up for failure.

~ Alexander Patton, from Boggling Bobbledegook

check out more on Alex's blog, Boggling Bobbledegook at


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