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Example of Name Calling

Name calling is the practice of using abusive descriptions of others. It's considered immature in adults, and generally useless as a conversational technique. It's actually a range of insults, normally of a very low standard of abuse. There are exceptions to this type of usage, however, where the names are humorous and not malicious.

Name-calling, typical used by children is the act of applying a negative term or label to describe a person or their actions. Children will often use words such as ''stupid'', ''baby'', ''ugly'' or other when speaking to their siblings or friends. Parents can also sometimes get caught up in using similar words when trying to diffuse these situations. These negative labels such as ''childish'', ''selfish'', ''mean'' or ''lazy'' often work their way into their vocabulary when trying to discipline a child. Some examples could be:

  • You are being so childish!
  • Why are you being so mean to your sister!
  • That was very selfish and rude.

Regardless of the wording, the label of ''childish'' or ''mean'' will affect the child greatly. These labels will have a negative effect on the child''s feelings and would be seen as an insult (or name calling).

How to Stop Name-Calling

The best and easiest way to stop Name-calling is to be a model to your children. This means that as a parent, you must never use negative labels when disciplining your child. Now as a parent, you may ask how will you correct your child without using a negative label? A simple trick to remember is this: If you find yourself wanting to use a negative label to describe your child''s behavior such as ''rude'', replace this label with a word that means the opposite, such as ''polite''. Instead of saying ''You are being rude'', you can say instead, ''You need to be polite when talking to your sister.'' Using the desired label instead of the negative one not only describes the behavior you expect to see from your child, but also provides an example of how you want them to talk to each other. This method helps teach them the goals you want them to learn and your children will turn out to be the smart, polite, helpful and honest individual that you hope they grow up to be. Children must HEAR these words consistently in order for them to become ingrained into their minds. If all they hear are words like ''lazy'', ''selfish'', or ''stupid this is all they will believe they are capable of.

Replace such words as:

  • Dirty and a mess become neat and clean
  • Cluttered and disorganized becomes organized and ordered
  • Stingy or selfish become sharing and generous
  • Reckless or careless becomes caring and responsible

Instead of saying such phrases as:

  • ''You are behaving like a child'' say ''Please act like the mature young boy/girl I know you know how to be.''
  • ''You are being mean to your sister'' becomes ''Please be nice to your sister.''

Use these methods to provide a model for your children and remember this also applies to you and your spouse (do not call each other names.) You can also help your children by explaining a few key concepts:

  1. Make sure your children know that name calling can be harmful and hurt people. Explain how they can express their frustration and annoyance when they are upset without name-calling or insults. Tell them it is ok to use key phrases such as: I disagree, or I do not like it when you do that, or I do not think that is a good idea, etc.
  2. Explain to them very clearly the consequences of name-calling. Set a punishment for these actions and stick with it.
  3. It is a parent''s responsibility to apply the consequence EVERY SINGLE TIME you hear name calling. If there is no improvement after a few weeks, implement a different consequence and keep trying.

Examples of Name Calling:

Literal: You unspeakable son of the wrong end of a camel.


'How are you, you pervert?'

'Fine, thanks.'