The Impact of Labeling in Childhood on the Sense of Self of Young Adults
Research studies on labeling of children have either focused on the effects of formal labels on the lives of children with exceptionalities and mental health issues, or the effect of informal labeling by parents, peers and teachers on teenagers. The effects of informal labeling in childhood and its implications in later life or for one’s career choice have not yet been examined. This study adds to the growing research on informal labeling. The purpose of this qualitative study was to determine what negative effects informal labeling of children as deviant had on their lives. Data were gathered through semi-structured interviews conducted with seventeen young adults, between the ages of sixteen and thirty years, from a post-secondary institution and an organization for homeless youth. The results showed an initial negative impact on the lives of the young adults during their childhood and early teenage years but as they progressed into their late teens and early adulthood, most were able to overcome their negative labels suggesting resilience. There were no significant gender differences in the impact of the labels. The implications of the study for policy makers and parents are discussed as well as some recommendations for parents and practitioners are offered.