All You Need to Know about Name-Calling and its Consequences

There is a saying that says, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." The problem is, this isn't at all true. Name-calling is one of the most destructive and heartbreaking types of bullying. It leaves the person with negative statements about what they are. It also attempts to define people falsely.

For example, calling someone fat, nerd, or other demeaning names also hits that person's self-esteem, self-worth, and self-concept. To make matters even worse, name-calling can often encourage that behavior in your child as well.

What Is Name-Calling?

Name-calling is abusive or derogatory language. It is a type of relational bullying. Name-calling, sometimes dismissed as teasing or ribbing often occurs in sibling bullying. However, this bitter conversation can harm a child's sense of self.

Approximately 75% of elementary school students say they are regularly called names. They also notice students call others words like "stupid" or "spaz," and almost 50% hear "you're so gay" or "that's so gay." A variety of derogatory terms are also used.

The situation is alarming in middle and high school. Approximately 65% of students indicate that name-calling is a severe issue at school. Regardless of the names the victim is called, the repeating statements are "you're not good" and "you're not accepted." Name-calling can be a type of prejudicial bullying.

In other words, name-calling makes it challenging for victims to believe their perceptions about themselves. It hurts at the moment and can have many long-term effects. The name-calling consequences are varied and can include the following:

Erodes Self-esteem

Over time, name-calling and other insulting statements can erode self-esteem, and victims will no longer see themselves realistically. For instance, if a person is called “fat,” they may consider themselves bulky even after they lose weight. This distorted body image may also lead to an eating disorder.

Harms the Sense of Well-Being

Name-calling can cause significant changes in the behavior and personality of victims. For example, teen victims may be more weeping or aggressive due to name-calling. They may develop excuses to avoid school and lose interest in outdoor activities. They are often disappointed with their life and may struggle with loneliness.

Compromise Beliefs and Values

When people are offended for having specific beliefs or values, the name-calling may cause them to turn to peer pressure and compromise their beliefs to escape bullying. "Goody-goody" or "wimpy" teens might try to disprove offensive statements by doing things against their beliefs.

Leads to Violence

In some circumstances, bullies may become violent with their victims. Alternatively, victims may act on their anger and frustration physically. They also may start to bully other people. Therefore, remember that if different names are called your child at school, bring it to the teacher or principal notice.

Affects Identity

When a bully calls a person a different name, they try to control how others see the person. For example, a bully can call someone an "idiot." This name-calling is usually performed in front of other people. It encourages others to consider that person an "idiot." Suppose the name-calling is repeated over and over. In that case, others, including the target, may begin to link with the word "idiot" with that person over time. And ultimately, that label can become part of that person's identity.

Prompts Internal Criticism

Name-calling usually leads victims to take on the names as reality. They begin to criticize themselves as a result. If a person is named a "loser," they will learn to call themselves a loser when they make a mistake. The problem is that the inner voice is hard to switch off and needs to be more objective. Moreover, repeated name-calling standardizes this communication and can validate the malicious comments in the child's mind.

Affects Mood

Remember that sudden mood changes can signal to bully. Therefore, never ignore a child’s mood swings or write them as hormonal until you have resolved why they look moody, distant, or angry. Changes in behavior, sleeping patterns, and moods are signs of something going wrong. It is not unusual for victims of name-calling and other types of bullying to face anxiety and depression. If your child shows mood swings, consult a professional immediately.

Damages Mental Health

Name-calling has severe consequences for mental health. Many researchers believe it is the most damaging form of bullying. Some of its victims feel depressed, worthless, helpless, and out of control. Others may even attempt suicide. If your child talks about death, do not ignore them.

Physical Health Issues

Victims’ physical health is impacted when called different names. In addition to having difficulty sleeping or eating, they may have an upset stomach and headaches. Some victims may develop PTSD, ulcers, or other stress-related conditions.

How Kids Respond to Name-Calling

Name-calling is one of the most painful types of bullying that kids can experience. Therefore, parents should always pay attention to what their kids are feeling. Instead, they should brainstorm ways to stand up against bullying with a child. Sometimes all it requires is a humorous comeback or not reacting. Other times, it will need a meeting with the principal or your child's class teacher. The key is to decide what will work best.

When responding to your child, take into account their perspective and personality. Some kids do better with various approaches, i.e., walking away, asking a teacher for help, or commenting that the person is rude. It's also essential to look at all angles of the situation. It may turn out that your child has also called names to the person doing it to them.

It may allow your child to understand that people often bully due to their low self-esteem. Furthermore, they should understand that name-calling is usually not about the target but rather a reflection of their insecurities. If you tell this fact to your child, you can prevent your child from modeling this behavior in the future.

Final Words

It isn't easy to know that your child has been targeted by name-calling, but you can help them. Acknowledging what is happening around them and taking it seriously relieves kids who may fear that adults will blame them. Letting your child know they are valued and teaching them different ways to respond can be helpful.