As kids, parents must have gone through the ordeal of name calling and being labeled at their schools. Well, nothing has changed, and even today, name calling, is as traumatic for your teens as it must have been for you. More so, if parents do not tackle this situation carefully, these hateful names may become part of their teen’s identity.
Making or breaking teen’s identity
“A lie repeated often enough, becomes a truth”, said Lenin. Same is the case with children and their personality development. If a teen, repeatedly, hears his/her parents, care-givers, teachers and classmates calling him/her a rebel, the child will, eventually,start to believe and behave accordingly. Teens absorb the labels in their personalities, act them out, perceive themselves in the same manner until this becomes a part of their identity.
Therefore, psychologists believe identity crisis is the most important issue faced by teens. While, children are still exploring the world and trying to figure out where they ‘fit in’, they are bombarded with different labels. This makes their journey even more difficult. In order to protect themselves from further emotional turmoil, they begin to believe the labels and interact with the world, in the same manner.
Usually teens shut themselves, when they can’t make sense of the world around them. This is a defense mechanism used to protect themselves from the damage being done to them from name calling and labeling. Some become aggressive and lash out to express their lack of self-esteem, which is caused by such insensitive labeling. This is their way of saying that they are not feeling good inside.
However, there is a lesson for teens that would help them understand themselves. If teenagers are not able to identify their strengths, then they will fall prey to constant name calling and become what others perceive them to be.
What can parents do?
Parents can play a crucial role in preventing this identity crisis or in helping their kid come out of the crisis. However, parents have to be consistent with their support. Children want to hear their parents’ love and support, in words, all the time. Tell your teen, “We love you. We believe in your abilities. We know you will do the best”. Such words help to encourage. They help to heal.
Most of the times, parents are clueless about what the kids go through at school that causes them to become moody and irritable. Talk to your teen. Ask them what is bothering them. It’s perfectly okay if your kid does not open up or isn’t in the mood to talk. Give them some time to adjust. Meanwhile, change the topic and talk about something that interests them. Once you notice that your kid has warmed up to the conversation, pitch in the question you wanted to ask. Of course, there are different ways that can be used to make your child talk; like during a movie or a video game. Show your concern. Make sure you don’t do or say anything that would further upset your teen.