What’s In a Name?

October 27, 2008 by  
Filed under Child Development

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These days, more parents are choosing—or at least considering—the nontraditional route when it comes to picking names for their children.

“Every parent wants their child to be unique, special or distinctive,” said Vicki Panaccione, a licensed psychologist in Melbourne. “One way to do that is with a name.”

Because our nation has become more diverse and is a huge melting pot, people are more tolerant of unusual names.

“In society, different names are more accepted, but kids are still kids,” Panaccione said.

“Parents give these kids a name for a reason, and with affection, caring and love and perhaps significance,” she added. “But what parents need to do is teach their kids how to handle it.”

With unusual names, parents should make sure to give children options if they are not ready to accept their unique names.

“The child can be proud of it and learn how to handle teasing or questions,” Panaccione said. “But if the child is uncomfortable or ashamed, parents need to be willing to let the child have a nickname or use a middle name or something they feel comfortable with.”

Dr. Panaccione said parents should consider this when naming a child:
1) Remember, the child has to live with his or her name, not only in childhood but through adult years.
2) Give your child tools to cope with an unusual name. For instance, tell her the unusual name is special because it is a family name or a character name from television or a novel. Or, explain your child’s name has some other significance or special meaning.
3) If a child is uncomfortable or ashamed with the unusual name, give an opportunity of nicknames or conventional middle names.
4) Remember that kids can be cruel, regardless of a name. Teasing can be based on many things, whether it’s an unusual name, height or hair color.
5) Consider that girls may have an easier time with unusual names because society gives them more leeway. With boys, their role, as defined by peers, is more stringent and stereotypical. So a boy with a girly name could have a harder time handling it.
6) Remember that cultural names may not be too common in mainstream America. So, a beautiful name based on a particular culture or religion, or common in another country, could be embarrassing or uncomfortable for a child in America.

As published in Florida Today.
Florida Today

© MMVI Vicki Panaccione, Ph.D.

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