Will what you name your child determine their success?
I’m sure that we all had that poor child in junior school who was teased mercilessly because of their name. Choosing a name for your child is one of the hardest tasks for parents. Their name becomes their identity forever and they will carry it for the rest of their lives. Both parents need to agree on what you choose. There are many factors that need to be considered, here are some tips on how to choose one for your precious bundle.
The most important part is that you choose something that you like. Imagine yourself yelling it loudly repeatedly and see how it rolls off the tongue. The best piece of advice we can give is to not take all advice, do what works best for you!
Where to begin?
Start discussing names with your partner first, you will soon find out what kind of names you each like. Create a list of the common names and keep it handy. Here are some guidelines on what to consider when making your decision.
Are there “successful” names?
In a Freakonomics study , the short answer is no. Choosing a certain name will not immediately guarantee success for your little one. The statistics used in this study are very American and so we are not sure how they would translate to the South African population, but it is still an interesting study and takes a bit of the pressure off when choosing a name.
First impressions first:
Research has been done into the impact of a name on a child, and it is thought that the impact is more with how others see the name. This concept is called the “looking-glass self”. We react based on how others perceive us, for example a name that is thought to be fragile and frilly like “Charlotte” or “Rosalie”. In studies done with online dating profiles, the more unusual names seemed to be too high a hurdle for others to cross and the more unique names were passsed over for the more common names.
Another study discovered that more uniquely named Americans are more likely to be more successful than their more commonly named counterparts. Sociologists think that the impact is more to do with children learning to control their emotions and how to interact with others when discussing their unique name. Conley, a sociologist in New York, explains this has more to do with the parents who would choose the name then the name itself. Choosing a name will depend on the parents socioeconomic levels, education and cultural heritage – these factors all play a role on the childs success.
A similar conclusion was reached by the economist Gregory Clack, who contrasted the names of Oxford university students with the number of times the same name appears in the general population.
Safety in numbers:
This trend seems to be changing as it has become more popular to choose a unique name. Before 1800 half of the male population were named either Harry, Oliver, Jack or Charles. More popular names become part of our “common language” and because we are more comfortable with the names there is a safety with the person attached to the name. Names that are easy to pronounce lead to “processing fluency”which create a positive impression and can lead to success.
In the study, the first and last names of 500 US lawyers were analysed and “it was found that those lawyers with the most pronounceable names were promoted faster than their unusually-named counterparts, even though they had comparable skills and experience,” says Dr Laham.
The custom of naming the baby after a father or grandfather is changing. Now it seems baby naming is more about choice and less about tradition. Despite the studies mentioned above, the name will have little impact compared to the actual child and their personality.
Things to consider when choosing a name:
Exes / Mean girls / Bullies:
Although you may love the name, if it was an ex of your partner it may be worth choosing something else. This applies to any bully or child that tormented you or your partner in your youth. Many names will have connotations so choose something that leaves you with happy memories. There is a saying, “you don’t realise how many people you hate until you try to choose a name for your child.”
Nicknames and initials:
Consider all the nicknames and short versions of the name and see whether you like it. A name like Jessica will inevitably be shortened to Jess. You can’t name your child Richard, and ask everyone to promise not to call him Dick. Consider the initials too. For example Zack Ian Thomas may be called ZIT or Ursula Glee becomes Uglee@gmail.com.
Meanings and heritage:
I am often surprised at how many people do not know the meaning of their own names. I personally like the idea of giving a wish to my child. The is no rule that says that if you name your child something they will become it, but it can often be a nice story to tell them. Consider the meanings of the first name and middle name together and see if they complement one another. You may also choose to include a bit of their history or heritage, such as biblical names or popular names from your country.
Family or other children:
You may have chosen the name when you were still a teenager and then your close friend has her baby first and uses your chosen name. It may be best to opt for something else. If you feel strongly about using the name then use it, or perhaps consider it as a middle name? Children who are in your circles or around you often will also influence you in your choices. Many families have traditions where names are passed down from generation to generation. If you don’t have many that you like from the family tree don’t tell anyone the name until after the child is born and the ink has dried. Don’t feel pressure it give your child a name that you do not like just because a relative wants you to.
Celebs and pop culture:
Beware fans, by choosing a name like Elsa or Bella you run the risk of other die hard fans choosing the same. This may leave your little one being the 5th Elsa in her class and called by her initials or another nickname. Pop culture references can also tend to be fads so choose a name that will last your childs lifestime.
By choosing something unique you help your little one stand out from the crowd. On the other hand you don’t want people to battle to pronouce your little ones name leading to attention of the unwanted kind.
There are many “unique” celeb baby names out there like Apple or Moon Unit. If you choose to copy one of the more individual make sure you love all the connotations. I’m sure your little one will be an angel, but consider how it will sound if you have to yell it to get their attention in a shop. Yelling “Apple” or “Peaches” may have people lining up to buy from your fruit cart. Many celeb names do not translate well into real life.
The obvious thing to consider is what rhymes with the name. Children can be cruel and very creative so make sure that you consider all possibilities. Some parents go as far as testing out the name choices on a focus groups of kids to make sure all is considered.
Test how it sounds with your last name:
Do you remember “Julia Gulia” from the Wedding Singer. After all you won’t be changing the surname so start with that as a base when choosing a first name. There are many sites on the internet that list some of the more humorous choices, but no parent wants their kid to be made fun of. (Examples include Peter Fowles, Holly Wood, Joe King, Jenna Taylor, Ben Dover, etc).
Try say the 2 names out loud together and make sure they compliment each other and are not too much of a mouthful. Also beware the new trend of last names as first names. In many cases there are wonderful name options, but try not to choose the same name twice. (For example Scott Scott, Riley Reighly and Neil McNeil).
Names of siblings:
If this is your first, no need to worry. You can test this with your own name and partners name. Try say all the names together and see how it sounds. This is how you will be introducing your brood at parties. Have you picked a theme intentionally – like all starting or ending with the same letter or sound?
With so many options of spelling today, do you want people to guess how to spell your baby’s name or have it always spelled correctly. My parents chose, what I consider a normal name, and I constantly get variations on the spelling. There are no points in the name game and by choosing a unique name and then spelling it “Uneek” may not be beneficial to the child.
Still stuck for name choices, here are the top names of 2014 for a bit of inspiration.
10 most popular girl names of 2014
- Sophia – “Wisdom”
- Emma – “whole” or “universal”
- Olivia – “olive tree” or “olive”
- Ava – “ life”
- Isabella – “pledged to God”
- Mia – “mine” or “bitter”
- Zoe – “life”
- Lily – “English flower name”
- Emily – “rival”
- Madelyn – “high tower” or “woman from Magdala”
See all top 100 girls’ names
10 most popular boy names of 2014
- Jackson – “son of Jack”
- Aiden – “little and fiery”
- Liam – “resolute protection”
- Lucas – “man from Lucania”
- Noah – “rest; wandering”
- Mason – “worker in stone”
- Ethan – “strong, firm”
- Caden – “son of cadan” or “battle”
- Jacob – “supplanter”
- Logan – “small hollow”
See all top 100 boys’ names
The most important thing to do is choose something that you love. Let us know some of your choices!