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Is There a Negative Effect on Children With Unique Names?

by Sara Ipatenco

Many parents choose a unique name so their child is set apart from the rest of the Michaels, Madisons and Jennifers. Other parents opt for a different name to buck the current naming trends and give their child a name that everyone else hasn't already used. Although naming your child is personal decision, you might want to consider the long-term effects of giving him or her a name that's hard to pronounce or hard to spell. In fact, children can experience several negative effects from having unique names.

Misspelling and Mispronuniciation

One of the most mild effects of having a unique name is that it will probably be butchered by teachers and others trying to spell or pronounce it. This can also occur if you spell a common name, such as Madison or Cindy, in a unique way, such as Madysin or Sindee. If your child's name is hard to spell or hard to say, she's in for a lifetime of correcting people who don't understand its uniqueness. Margaret Rose, Ph.D., and author of "Baby Names for Dummies," notes that unique spellings can also make your baby's name seem more frivolous and less formal.

How They're Treated

According to an article in TIME Magazine, children with certain unique names are viewed differently than children with more common names. Children who are given names that include the "kz" combination or a prefix of "Sha" are often viewed less favorably because these letter combinations are more commonly used among mothers of low economic status. Children with these names are more likely to be referred to special education and often perform more poorly in the classroom, the TIME article reports. A study done for the National Bureau of Economic Research found that teachers often treat children with names that sound like they came from parents of low socioeconomic statuses differently than students with more common names. The author of the study suggests that students with names that have prefixes of "Lo," "Ta" and "Qua," as well as suffixes of "isha" and "ious" are often treated differently. Right or wrong, it's something to consider when choosing a unique name for your baby so you're not choosing something that might affect your child's education.

Teasing

A unique name can be twisted, rhymed and otherwise changed to something that causes your child to get teased. Think about what your last name is, and avoid choosing a name that rhymes or creates a phrase. Ima Hogg is a famous example of a philanthropist given a name that became an embarrassing phrase. Jennifer Moss, author of "The One-in-a-million Baby Name Book," notes that if your last name is Hunter, you probably don't want to use Beau as a first name or if your last name is Weather, you shouldn't give your child the name Stormy. Think about what the name rhymes with, too, because if you think of it, your child's classmates are bound to think of it, also. Think "Sexy Lexi" or "Smelly Nelly." Moss also recommends looking into what your baby's name means. She notes that Melvin might be a unique name, but it's also the name of a childhood prank that involves underwear.

Recommendations

Of course, follow your heart and give your baby a name that is meaningful, special and unique. Before you settle on a name, however, think about how you would feel if the name was your own. If you think it's funny, other people are going to think it's funny, too. If you're not completely sold that it's a good choice, other people are probably going to have similar thoughts. Consider asking friends and family members for input. Run your unique name choices by them because they might think of a negative aspect that you haven't considered. You might also consider using a name that already exists but isn't all that popular. Genevieve, Lillian, Alice, Camden, Hudson and Travis are already existing names, but you don't meet many babies with these choices.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

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