Recently I was describing a scene at our house in which Jena had a meltdown. A friend responded by yelling "SPOILED BRAT!".
As I tried to explain the situation further, this friend just kept interrupting me, repeating "Spoiled brat! She's a spoiled brat! Brat!" I never did get to finish my story.
In fact, I stopped talking until someone changed the subject. By "someone" I mean one of the 15+ people in the vicinity, including my daughter, who was in earshot.
I should have said something. Sadly, I was too stunned. I know that this person loves my daughter very much, wouldn't doubt that they would lay down their life for her. So why call her names in such a manner?
I should have called her on it.
The sad thing is I've heard them speak to their own children in the same manner. To other loved ones. It's how they speak.
Not in my house.
Yuou see, the problem with calling names, is that you are attaching an identity to that person.
Instead of telling me that you think my actions are causing behavior problems in my child, you are telling my child she is a "spoiled brat". You have assigned her an identity.
Does that make sense?
Instead of addressing one action, one behavior, both of which can change, you are essentially saying "this is who you are, it's part of your identity"
To you get the difference?
Instead of yelling 'SPOILED BRAT!', my friend could just have easily said "I think you're spoiling her!". The latter statement not only sounds nicer, it's more accurate. It places the blame squarely where it belongs - on my actions as Jena's parent, instead of giving a four-year-old the identity of being a brat because she had a one meltdown.
So we don't do name calling in our house. But it honestly took this episode for me to really think about why we made that decision. We don't call names, because it isn't nice. But it really goes deeper than that, doesn't it? It speaks to assigning resposibility on someone's actions instead of their character as a person, on giving them the ability to change, rather than assessing their identity as being negative in & of itself.
So we don't do name calling in our house.
We do nicknames - Punkinbutt, Love, and Beautiful are probably the three I use most often with Jena.
We address behavior - stop whining, you need to calm down, you get what you get and you don't throw a fit, etc.
But we do not call names in our house.
And next time, I will be better prepared to rebutt anyone who does call my child a name. Promise.
As always, thanks for checking in!