Labeling and the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy - Nancy Lechner

Some labels are helpful - others are not.

Without its label, could you tell a can of tuna from a can of cat food?

Children are sometimes labeled by the adults that surround them, both positively and negatively. They say something like, ‘Sam’s the clumsy one.’ And, from the moment that Sam is labeled as ‘the clumsy one’, being clumsy becomes what he does best.  Positive labels will, of course have the same effect. So when Jenna’s babysitter says, ‘Jenna’s the creative one in the family,’ this gives Jenna license to do wonderfully creative things.

Labels have a deep impact on how children feel about themselves, what they believe about themselves, and the images they carry of themselves. They have the power to define us and shape us into who we will become.

Our current Assistants to Infancy (ages 0-3) course students recently participated in an activity to address this issue in which they were each “labeled,” and then given a task to perform as a group.

Those ascribed traits included:

  • I am afraid of everything
  • I can't sit still or pay attention
  • I am a slow learner
  • I am unpredictable and likely to hurt you
  • Laugh at everything I say
  • I am normal

Within 15 minutes of being treated according to their label, all students could easily identify how they had been typecast. The following discussion and dialogue better helped our adult students understand the influence and power of labeling.

Learn more about our Assistants to Infancy course and curriculum by clicking here:

Posted on June 24, 2015 and filed under Assistants to Infancy, Resources.