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“George is the funny one, Sally the serious one, and Jane is the athlete.” Does that sound familiar? “Labeling” a child is a moniker that remains with the child throughout life. When I’m sitting with my husband and his brother, who are well into adulthood, they tell stories and still live in their childhood assignations. And somehow, these childhood assignations have helped to create their identities, whether authentic or not.

Children, like adults, are often a blend of many things. A good athlete can be a poor student and a good musician. And with a little bit of work, the good athlete can also be a good student and a great musician. We are not representative of only one characteristic, and neither are your children. We all have many strengths and many weaknesses. Assigning one characteristic to your child, however strong it may seem, narrows their belief in themselves.

Have you ever tried to ask your child what he thought he was good at? Or what he would like to be better at? You can even make yourself vulnerable and share your own stories. A discussion like that, one of being curious about your child, opens possibilities and is an authentic expression of curiosity on behalf of your child. So if you have the need to create a “moniker” for your child, make it three words, not one, taking the discussion as your queue.