PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Nicknames: Ditching Bad Nicknames

We usually don't mind when people call us by a positive nickname like Ace or Xena, and it feels good when these nicknames get repeated. But when classmates pick up on a cruel nickname like Freakazoid or Lady Lame, it can be difficult to get them to stop. So what should you do?

Ask your friends to give it a rest
If the kids using the nickname are your friends, let them know how bad it makes you feel. Maybe you tripped over your feet a few times, and your friends have started calling you Klutzo, thinking that you don't really mind. Well, if it does bother you, tell them! Calmly explain that you don't want to be known as Klutzo, and if they're really friends, they'll understand.

Don't put up with it
If the kids calling you by a bad nickname aren't your friends, you should do your best to ignore them. If you act like they aren't hurting you, they'll eventually get bored and move on. It may be hard to pretend that it doesn't hurt, but if you get angry or obviously upset, it will just encourage them to use the nickname all the time.

Never answer to a nickname you don't like. Act like the kids must be talking to someone else, because that's not your name. If the kids refuse to stop, talk to your teacher. Calling somebody a mean nickname is a form of bullying, and you don't have to put up with it.

Leave a nickname behind
Sometimes, life gives us a chance to start fresh, and these chances can be a good time to drop a nickname that you don't like. If you have a nickname that you hate at school, there's no reason that it has to follow you to summer camp. When you meet new kids, use your real name, or a nickname that you like, and make sure your parents don't accidentally call you by the one that you hate. If you're moving from elementary school to middle school, let your friends know that, now that a new year has begun, you don't want to go by your old nickname. They might want a chance to start fresh too, so they'll probably go along with it.

Understand that it's just a name
It's a nickname. It's not who you are. A bad nickname may goof on something about how you look or what you're like, but it shouldn't change who you are or how you think about yourself. It feels bad to get teased, but names are just words, and although words can hurt, they can't change who you really are.

Understand that things will change
Remember that if you have a bad nickname now, you probably won't always be stuck with it. Just look at Elvis Presley! When he first started singing onstage, he wiggled his hips so much that cruel critics and audiences nicknamed him Elvis The Pelvis. He never stopped wiggling, but people soon found it impossible to ignore his talent and began to call him The King of Rock & Roll. Elvis probably liked his second nickname a lot more than his first!

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