Psychology Today recently released an article discussing the risks of identity-shaping in youth. It highlights on how there is a common disregard to the effects of how parents label their children. Most parents do not realize how labels such as “picky eater,” “the pretty one,” or “the athletic one” are creating issues with identity-shaping in youth.

Labeling a Child

We don’t label a child with short hair as “short-haired,” because we expect the condition of having short-hair to change. Why is being a picky eater any different? Kids who don’t eat a wide range of foods can be going through a phase. This doesn’t mean that they are going to have permanent issues with food.
By labeling children, we are shaping children’s identities and limiting or constraining how they see themselves. Many parents, teachers, or physicians label children as a picky eater, then that child adopts that identity. It is hard to change your sense of identity once it has been established—which is why identity-shaping in youth through labels can have serious effects.
Labeling a child as one thing makes that trait the child’s dominant characteristic. All their other traits fade away compared to that one. Identity-shaping in youth has created a specific label for teens to categorize themselves with. You often hear youth saying “I’m the pretty one, not the smart one,” or “I’m smart, not athletic.”

A Sense of True Self-identity

Identity-shaping in youth is limiting the potential of children—the worst part is it’s often being learned from caregivers. Youth need to understand that they can be pretty, smart or athletic.  Adolescence is a time to build self-identity, not be restricted from a singular label thrusted upon an individual.
Many people don’t develop a sense of true self-identity until much later in life. It is important for youth to know that they are not restricted to labels—their bodies and interests will change, and they have the ability to label themselves as anything they want to be.

Seven Stars Can Help

Seven Stars is an adventure therapy program for 13 to 18-year-old teens. Our students commonly deal with issues such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, trauma, and other behavioral challenges.
Call us today at (844) 601-1167 for more information on our adventure therapy program and how we can help.