Parent Q&A: Preschooler Identity Crisis?

Hi, Rebekka!

I have a question for you. As you know, Charlie has been calling himself “Mymee” for about a year now. I only started telling other people to call him that once he started loudly correcting people who said Charlie (“I am Mymee!”). Now, with school starting, I’ve basically made his name Mymee for the purposes of school. I did this to ease his way, because he responds better when people call him by his nickname. But I’m wondering if this is the right choice. It’s not like I’m hoping he’ll be going by Mymee when he’s in college. I like the name Charlie, that’s why we chose it! I guess I’m wondering if I’m going overboard accommodating or if this seems appropriate? Do you have any thoughts? 

Not So Sure About Nicknames


Hi NSSAM!

In short, unless you have cause for concern about other aspects of Charlie’s development, I am not sure there’s anything hugely atypical going on for him. Young children have so many important tasks to accomplish, not least of which is the job of creating a unique and personal identity. Many children go by pseudonyms as a way of exploring their sense of self, asking to be called by the name of their favorite superhero or cartoon character instead of their given name. My daughter went through a period of insisting that others call her by her favorite “big girl” cousin’s name, shouting at people to correct them when they forgot. For whatever reason, Charlie needs the authority to choose for himself to be called Mymee right now. The more we push back against it, the more he will dig in his heels. What we can do is get curious about what this choice means for him, both with him directly in age-appropriate conversations, and by sharing our personal reveries about it in his presence. I don’t know what he’ll want to be called when he goes to college, but even if it’s not Mymee (which it probably won’t be), it might not be Charlie either! There’s the rub of parenting; we create these incredible creatures only to find out they are not our creations at all. They are their own, entirely and remarkably.

Take good care,

Rebekka


For additional reading:


Rebekka Helford is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Los Angeles, California. With over a decade of experience working with parents and young children, Rebekka specializes in short-term intensive parenting consultation, using a variety of tools including home, office, and school visits to help families navigate developmental hiccups and get back on track.

Click here to schedule an appointment or contact Rebekka with a question – who knows, she might even answer it in her next post!


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