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Be careful with a nickname

Develop yourself to the best of your ability

There are two types of nicknames, desirable and undesirable and with both, we should be careful to use them.

I had a great lesson from two pupils in my class. The school day had come to an end and I walked with the children to the taxi that would take them back home. Many children in my class live too far away from each other to play together regularly, but today one girl was lucky. Enthusiastic and full of energy, she stood next to me jumping and dancing, finally, finally she would get to play with her school friend. The whole school day had revolved around this moment, it was all she could talk about.

She babbled on and on, how she would get to her friend’s house, what they would do and how she would go home again. She said to me where is “Nootje” now. Noah was in another class and had yet to come out. Finally she came out and the student ran to her, “Nutty finally, there you are!” Another student heard her say that and said, “Her name is Noah you know!”. To which she said, “I can say that!, hey Nootje.” To which Noah said, “yes you do.” And to the other pupil, “and you don’t, because she is my friend”.

We sometimes give an unwanted nickname to people because we are angry or frustrated. We sometimes use them once, but their impact sometimes reaches incredibly far. I can still remember one specific negative nickname someone once said to me – which I am obviously not going to mention here – but a nickname that can still sometimes make me feel insecure when I put on certain clothes. And this despite the fact that I put on what I want and have completely my own taste.

But even a desirable nickname can be annoying. Noah does not like it when people call her “Nootje”; it is a name she has reserved for specific people, for her deepest friends. A name that others, with whom she has a different connection, should stay away from. Noah articulated that perfectly, and now I understood why I find it annoying that some people address me with a nickname, which although they mean it positively, is not for them. But only for my deepest friends.

A nickname evokes emotions, positive or negative. Let’s learn that when we don’t call others by their proper name, or don’t want to, we realise the impact. Sometimes the solution is very easy, just don’t use a negative nickname, and if you want to use a positive nickname ask the other person if they are okay with it.


By Angelique Sijbolts

Sources: Positive Word Power by Chana Nestlebaum van de Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation

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