Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Dealing with labels on children
Here is what I've learned about labels:
1. Labels are heavy when they stick to your heart. The hardest part of labels is that we mistakenly see them as an indicator of brokenness in our children. In reality what they do is put a name on an obstacle -- and we can either surmount or adapt to most obstacles.
2. Labels grow lighter when you look at them as tools. If giving my kid a diagnosis will get him the services or accommodations or medication he needs, label away! A label gives me keywords to search on, a starting point for finding out ways to help my child, and a means to build a support network for myself. A label that gets my child an IEP or 504 gives me negotiating power with schools.
3. Labels don't change who your child is or doom your child's future. What you do with the information a label gives you, and how you adapt to it makes the biggest difference of all. And unless it really is your fault that your child faces challenges, you don't need to feel ashamed or guilty.
4. Labels sometimes change. Kids grow, frontal lobes develop, and we get better at figuring out ways to help our children learn and adapt and behave.The label you have today may not apply five years from now. Keep focused on the next best step you can take, and keep moving.