Lance was recently looking at new schools with his son and was amazed at the labels some parents want to give their children.
It’s that time in our life where our son is getting ready to start his new ‘big’ school. We’d already been to a few open days and decided to see the shortlisted schools in their natural environment (i.e. during a normal school day). I’m sure many of you will have been through this process and you know deep inside that it’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a family which you want to get right. So the appointment was made with the Head and we had the opportunity to look around a very calm and welcoming school. Naturally other parents were with us and one parent had their child with them too. Imagine the scene; a group of parents, the Head, and a ten year old child sat next to their potentially future Head. Now imagine how this child may have felt in this situation. Next, imagine how this child felt when they heard their parent say to everyone, “I want to have a look at the maths Department because Renault has a problem with maths, in fact she has confidence issues with lots of stuff.” It was that perfect tumbleweed moment. A 30 minute tour around the school then took place where this parent had the opportunity to mention their daughter’s confidence issues a further eleven times.
So where will this ever end? The daughter will only become more confident when her parent stops mentioning her daughter’s confidence issues, and the parent will only stop telling everyone about her daughter’s confidence issues when her daughter becomes more confident. Do you think that the daughter was born with confidence issues, or were the daughter’s issues caused by the parent? The nature/nurture debate goes on. I’m pretty sure though that the daughter’s thoughts were never along these lines: “I’m not as quick at maths as everyone else; that means I lack confidence, which means I have confidence issues. “ I’m sure that thinking needed someone else’s help. I wonder where that help came from?
When we label people, the label becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Firstly, we look for behaviours in that person which confirms our labelling of them. Secondly, the person who’s labelled is often treated in a way that makes them behave in a way that matches the label. As for Renault, I truly hope she gets into the school where the staff will be able to help her with her confidence issues and reverse the damage the labelling has caused.
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What about you though, what labels are you giving your work colleagues, your family, or your children? And what labels are they giving you?