Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Labels on Children

I don’t like to place labels on children. Children grow up into the label they end up trying to fit into the label or find themselves unable to escape the label. I know that both my children have some issues. One has speech problems that he has been receiving help for since he was 2 ½ years old. He will always struggle with his speech. This is not something that he can hide; it is something people are just going to have to get used to. However we have already run into some problems. The daycare attached to the school he starts SK in a few weeks will not take him because he has a speech problem. Oh, they did not say it was because of that but once they found out that he has weekly speech therapy his paper work keeps going missing, other kids have been bumped in front of him and other little things keep happening, like they will not return our calls. It is funny because up until they found out about his speech problem I was told he would have a spot in Sept. if not sooner, now there is none available.

My daughter has been labeled as being a difficult child, and yet she is a wonderful three year old. This is a classification being placed on her by people in the childcare industry, professionals who decide what kids have medical or behavior issues. This label has taken about 4 months for her to get. She has been showing some very strong behavior issues since January of this year. We called for help in February and have been working with someone since then. She was referred to as a difficult child and we were sent to parenting classes to learn coping techniques and strategies to change her behaviors. It worked for about 3 months but now the behaviors are even worse. So we were referred to specialists at Mac Master children’s hospital and are enrolling the whole family into a program designed to help us.

The problem I am having is not that they are going to help us but now she is documented as a difficult child with behavior problems. What is this label going to do to her? Will she start thinking of herself as the problem child and behave “badly” because that is what her role is in our family, there for that is the behavior she thinks we expect from her? How are teachers going to see her and judge her before even meeting her if her file labels her as being difficult and having behavior problems? I don’t what the label to define who she is or can be. The label is not her, but how to make sure it does not become that way?

She may only need some extra attention or something and that might resolve the problems. That is what the program the family in enrolling into is going to help identify. Now she is only 3 so I figure some of it is going to be normal three-year-old behavior. I just don’t want this label to become a part of her record that her future teachers will see. I already know that a label on a file can taint a teacher’s perception toward a child. If you expect to have difficulty with a child then that is what you are going to find even if the child is not behaving any differently then the others around them, because that is what you are looking for.

It is very important to not let labels become your child. Teachers and other people with in the system need to be able to separate a child from the label, but that is not what happens. I am going to do everything I can to keep this label from becoming a part of her educational record to try and prevent people from being influence by the label. I have to accept the label for now because it is what is getting us the help we need. I am sure that the issue is not her but our family dynamics. There have been a lot of changes and stress the last few months and I know that it has had an impact on both kids. They just deal with it differently. I just want to get help now before it becomes a permanent behavior that is part of who she is. I think that is the key, identify a problem in behavior and then get help to find out what is causing the behavior and then make changes in the home and family to resolve it, not put a label on it that sticks with the kid for the rest of their lives.

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