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Anonymous asks:
Q:

CHILD PREFERS A DIFFERENT NAME?

MY 7 YEAR OLD BROTHER SOME TIMES COMPLAINS THAT HE WISHES HIS NAME WAS JAKE. THAT NAME IS NOT TOO FAR OFF FROM HIS ACTUAL NAME, JACK. HIS NAME IS SPECIAL & WE EXPLAIN TO HIM EACH TIME WHY HE HAS HIS NAME. HE SEEMS SATISFIED, BUT SAYS HOW WHEN HE PLAYS WITH OTHER KIDS, HE TELLS THEM TO CALL HIM JAKE. AND HE PRETENDS TO BE JAKE WHEN HE PLAYS SOME TIMES AT HOME. HE ALSO TALKS TO HIMSELF SOME TIMES, MAINLY WHEN HE'S UPSET. HE WON'T DENY IT EITHER. IF YOU ASK HIM WHO HE'S TALKING TO, HE WILL SAY "MYSELF!" I WORRY A LITTLE BIT. HE DOES HAVE A VERY ACTIVE IMAGINATION, AND THE POOR GUY (AND OUR WHOLE FAMILY) HAS BEEN THROUGH A LOT IN THE LAST 3-4 YEARS. EVERYTHING FROM DEATH OF GRANDPARENTS, TO OUR FATHERS DEATH, & OUR MOTHER HAVING MAJOR SURGERY. HE IS PRETTY MUCH LIKE AN ONLY CHILD, I AM 19 YEARS OLDER & LIVE IN A DIFFERENT STATE. HE IS ALONE AT HOME WITH OUR MOM MOST OF THE TIME, WHEN NOT IN SCHOOL & AT BASEBALL. HE DOES REALLY WELL, SOCIALLY. HE'S NOT AFRAID TO APPROACH KIDS & PLAY & CAN GO FOR HOURS IF YOU LET HIM. HE'S PRETTY SMART, AND IS JUST OVER ALL A REALLY GOOD BOY. :) I JUST CAN'T SEEM TO FIND ANY THING OR REASON AS TO WHY HE WISHES HE HAS A DIFFERENT NAME. WHEN WE ASK HIM, IT'S ALWAYS JUST BECAUSE, HE LIKES IT. DOES ANY ONE HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS OR HAS ANY ONE EXPERIENCED ANY THING SIMILAR? THANKS!!
In Topics: Cognitive development, Self esteem and identity
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Louiseasl
Mar 31, 2011
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What the Expert Says:

Hello and thank you for writing to JustAsk!

I want to first commend you for connecting with us out of concern for your brother. It would seem that you ALL have been through quite a lot of turmoil and grief these past few years.

I would start by seeing if your mom could connect Jack with the guidance counselor in his school.  Perhaps there is a grief counseling group in his school.

You also may be relieved to know that seven year old children often have active imaginations.  They will pretend to be another character (like a super hero), act out what they see on TV or read, and sometimes even want to change their name.  This usually is not abnormal and in time will work itself out with his maturity.  

You can either call him Jack or Jake- but the real question is to ask him why for the name change?  This may open a door for feelings to be exposed and a different kind of discussion- like how much he misses those who have died.  Don't force the discussion, but just open the "window" from time to time to see if he will talk.  Also, feel free to express your feelings and how much you miss your father and grandparents.  Also, having an ill parent is worthy of discussion too, for Jack and you.

Good luck and I hope this helps. Know that there are experts in his school to help and that you don't need to shoulder this issue alone.

Good luck!
Louise Sattler, Psychologist
Owner of Signing Families

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Additional Answers (2)

Karenmom
Karenmom writes:
I don't think it's uncommon for children to talk to themselves, in fact our pediatrician asked if I'd ever noticed if they talk to themselves and she expects it.  My pediatrician claims that it is a indication of intelligence and actually has concerns if they don't talk to themselves while playing.

I also don't think it's unusual for a child not to like their name regardless of the name's meaning or importance to the family.  I find that a lot of children/adults have nicknames that they become known by and most people are not aware of their name on the birth certificate because they only go by their nickname.  If it's really that important to him to be called Jake instead of Jack, I don't see why not allow it.

Sounds like to me that he is a well-rounded young man with a balanced lifestyle.  

Best wishes!
> 60 days ago

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fehdes
fehdes writes:
hi im 33years old.i went through alot in my life.when you describe your brother it is as if you are talking about me.my dad died when i was 13years old,i insisted i have my name changed also very similar to my original name.we [my mum and i]consulted with a priest and he found no problem in changing my name.my mum also had major surgery after my dad died.basically no one got hurt,i got a new name,i was happy,i found that made me deal with my situation better.i did very well in school,bubbly personality,happily married,mum to 5 kids,doing my degree in teaching.it worked for me.give your brother time,be supportive.oh by the way i still talk to myself,no harm in that! i am able to talk things through with myself instead of blurting things out to people and making a fool of myself.my kids find me very approachable .good luck.
> 60 days ago

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