In the past I have attended social functions where I was referred to as “sweetie.” Instead of finding this “pet name” as a term of endearment, I found it insulting. My name is Tracy. Calling me by anything else takes away my individuality. It’s a generic term that makes me feel as though people do not see me for all that I am. As I sorted through these thoughts and feelings, I couldn’t help but think… How does this make our classroom children feel if we refer to them as “sweetie”?
I also began to wonder… How does this leave the child feeling when you forget to call them by these “pet names”? Could they be keeping track of how often you call their peers by these pet names, but not them? What if these pet names such as, “sweetie, honey, or baby,” are terms of endearment to you but could be construed as something negative to the child? For example, what if this child is told to stop acting like a “baby” in other environments? Instead of this being a positive thing for the child to hear, it could actually have a damaging effect on the child’s emotional development.
As educators in this field, we have many goals for the preschool children in our classrooms and programs. When I was teaching in the classroom, one of my main goals was to help build children’s emotional and social development. I did this by nurturing them as they gained their independence and became self-efficient. I wanted to assist them as they built their confidence as young children and found their own identities. One of the ways I did this was by calling children by their real names. By using children’s real names we are demonstrating respect for them as individuals. We are helping to mold them to become successful problem-solvers and critical thinkers. How can we help children successfully develop their own sense of who they are if we don’t call them by their real names?
Again, my name is Tracy, that’s what you may call me.