Giving your kids a bad mane

'Keep on telling me what I am, and that's what I'll become'. Just be careful how you describe your children to their faces, to your friends and listen to what other family members say about each other and be mindful of accepting what you hear from your child's teachers. Labels are easy to give and hard to undo.

Remember the nicknames, the stories told and the jokes you received as a child. And just be aware of the nicknames, jokes and stories and teasing that goes on in your house. These are the signs that family members are cast into roles and given labels to match.

'Oh, he's the clever one in the family but he hasn't got any common sense', 'She's a bit of a tearaway' 'My youngest is so untidy and clumsy" "Oh, she's the artistic one." Labelling is disabling and limiting if you are not aware of it as children are sensitive to labelling and can see it as criticism. They can also take this forward throughout their life - still thinking they are the "bad at maths one" all their life. So don't beat yourself up if you've suddenly noticed this in your family just make a conscious effort to be more aware in the future and to free your teenager up from any limiting labels. Labels - good or bad,can become a part of your teenager's self image and although a label may start with a germ of truth in it, it quickly acquires its own momentum and speed. A 'clumsy' teen will become apprehensive about unpacking the dishwasher and in a state of nervousness, drops a couple of plates.

More proof that they are clumsy! It becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Parents often label their children by comparing and contrasting them and some labels link your teen to another member of the family and may not be negative. "You're just like your father."She sings beautifully like her mother".

Whilst the labels are given and meant affectionately they convey equally powerful messages. So be aware of how you are using them. Negative as well as positive labels have their downside. So for this week just notice the stories, jokes, name calling and teasing that goes on in your house and just reflect on what you see and hear. If you're not entirely happy with what you discover don't give yourself a hard time just ask yourself what you can do to guide, nudge and steer your family in another direction.

Sue Atkins is a Parent Coach and Author of "Raising Happy Children for Dummies" one in the famous black and yellow seriesand mother of two teenage children. She has written many books on self esteem, toddlers and teenagers and has a collection of Parenting Made Easy Toolkits available from her website. To find out more about her work and to receive her free monthly newsletter packed full of practical tips and helpful advice for bringing up happy, confident, well-balance children go to => http:/www.positive-parents.com

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