Watch Out for Labels Like “Lazy” and “Spoiled”

I always cringe when I hear parents refer to their children with a blatantly negative label. Words like “lazy” and “spoiled” have such negative connotations and carry with them such baggage that it seems unfair to brand a child lazy or spoiled (or nasty or mean, etc.). Instead of labeling and complaining about a “lazy” child, why not look to the behaviors and see what can be done?

The problem with labels (okay, there are many problems with labels) is that they can brandish a child in a negative way and make it tough for the child or the parent to see beyond the label. Once you have decided that one of your children is the “lazy” one, the other the “smart” one and another the “nice” one—how can those not be confining labels? Who really wants to be known as the “lazy” child and why does the parent get to be the one stamping those painful labels on people?

A child can have problematic behaviors. She can even act lazy or behave as though she has been spoiled—but what is going on behind those behaviors? Is it really a core personality trait or is it a responsive behavior to something that has happened in her life? If grandma and grandpa have given a child toys and candy every time she squawked, she might learn behaviors that convey a sense of entitlement or assume that anything she wants she should get. This does not make her a horrible person or a lost cause. It is up to us as parents to get down to the root of the problem behaviors and make the necessary changes. Labeling and branding a child negatively not only does not help to correct the behaviors, it can also really make things worse. A child may determine that she is “lazy” anyway, why even bother to try to make a change?

See Also: Truly Lazy, or Just Not Interested?

The Trouble with Labels