In Episode 3 of Ellie Asks, I asked Clare Walters, Mystical Mentor exactly that. Clare began by discussing what she was like as a child and how she was quite subdued and believed in fairies and magick. This continued into her teenage years and she was given labels of ‘emotional’ ‘highly strung’ and ‘the quiet one’. She often heard “oooh don’t upset Clare she’ll get emotional”. Clare talks about feeling trapped in a world that no one else appeared to understand
However it wasn’t until secondary school that a teacher described Clare as funny that these labels began to challenged – much to her mum’s dismay. Her mum thought that the teacher had got the wrong child. This was the first time Clare had started to believe that she didn’t need to accept the labels give to her by her family.
Clare moved towns for a fresh start but these labels were so deep rooted that she carried on believing that she didn’t really fit in anywhere. All because people didn’t understand her due to her belief in all things mystical and magical.
This got me thinking about my children – what flippant, not-meaning-anything comments do I make to my own children. I call (or should I say called) my eldest daughter clumsy from her being very small – she would, and still does fall over fresh air. However, it wasn’t until recently that we were getting the food shopping out of the car and she said “don’t give me the eggs because I am clumsy so will probably drop them!”
At this point in her life, I had seen the error of my ways and had already stopped calling her clumsy but that is a label that I had given her and that she had unwittingly taken off me. This is now (but hopefully not forever) a belief she has about herself. Although this time it was only getting eggs safely inside the house and not huge – I had still shaped her behaviour negatively.
How could this impact her life later? Would she choose not to take on challenges because she has this belief that she can’t do it due to her clumsiness?
How about you? What labels were you given? Has that impacted you positively or negatively?
What do you say to your children that are helping to shape their beliefs about themselves?
When I was teaching, I often heard at parents’ evening’s comments like “I’m no good at maths so I’m not surprised he’s struggling” or “she’s not her brother is she? Not as intelligent.” Pretty shocking especially considering the child was usually sitting right next to their parent at the time. What you or their siblings are good or bad at is yours and theirs – that label does not need to be placed on your child.
What positive labels and attributes are we going to nurture in our children?