The Upside of Giving Your Child a Unique Name

Photo credit: Hill Creek Pictures - Getty Images
Photo credit: Hill Creek Pictures - Getty Images

From Good Housekeeping

Celebrities aren't the only ones using unique and bizarre baby names — last year, Kale, Royaltee, and Anakin joined Social Security's extended list. And old-fashioned monikers like Alice, Josephine, Arthur, and Frank have been steadily making a comeback, too. But now, experts say that giving your child a unique name may have an impact on his or her personality.

"It's a self-fulfilling prophecy that begins with an unusual name and ultimately leads to unconventional or creative thinking," Adam Alter, a professor of psychology and marketing at New York University and author of Drunk Tank Pink, told Yahoo Parenting "When you think of yourself as different, you might in turn think and behave differently."

So parents who give their kids unusual names help shape them into distinctive adults — not only by giving them an atypical handle but also by raising them that way. "Parents are pushing the envelope in lots of ways in terms of choosing names that will be different," Pamela Redmond Satran, author of The Baby Name Bible and creator of Nameberry, told Yahoo. These are also the same moms and dads, she adds, "sending them to a nursery school that prizes creativity, or letting them dress themselves in tutus and rainbow boots each morning instead of pants and plain sneakers."

Need more proof? Science says Shakespeare was onto something with Juliet's "What's in a name?" speech. Names often shape how others treat us because it subconsciously shapes their perception. Psychology professor Richard Wiseman wrote in Quirkology how research reveals "that teachers award higher essay grades to children with likable names, that college students with undesirable names experience high levels of social isolation, and that people whose surnames happen to have negative connotations (such as 'Short', 'Little' or 'Bent') are especially likely to suffer feelings of inferiority."

Essentially, labels can define us for better or worse."If parents give their children unusual names and communicate to them that they are special, it can be a plus," says Richard Zweigenhaft, author of the study, Unusual First Names: A Positive Outlook. "If parents give their children unusual names and the message they receive is that they are weird or odd, it can be a minus."

A couple examples: Giving kids a family surname as a first name implies high expectations and often leads to high achievement. And girls with masculine or gender-neutral names are more likely to pursue advanced studies in science and math than those with more feminine names.

But, Strahan asserts, a unique name is only part of what shapes a child. "It symbolizes their hopes and dreams for their kids," she said. "So if you want your child to stand out from the crowd, be independent, and a real individual, a unique name is one way to show him that you value those qualities."

[via Yahoo Parenting

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