HomeLifeHow much do baby names impact their future?

How much do baby names impact their future?

Choosing a name for your child is a huge decision. Usually, the first piece of information a stranger learns about someone else is a moniker picked for them by their parents.

Understandably, many parents to be want to pick something that feels unique – but what role does a name really play in our lives?

Oliver and Isla have been revealed as the most popular names for boys and girls born in Australia in 2022, according to research by McCrindle.

Unique baby names, popular baby names, and nicknames as first names, all make an appearance in this year’s most popular baby names.

Botanical names are still popular with Willow (8), Lily (13), Ivy (14), Violet (28), Daisy (34), Luna (37), Poppy (38), Kai (40), Aurora (45), Stella (58), River (60.), Olive (64), Summer (67), Bodhi (70) and Delilah (71) firmly cultivating top 100 spots.

Colours are also still a source of inspiration, with Ruby (21), Hazel (24), Scarlett (30) and Rose (81) trending strong.

So, what’s in a name and, most importantly, how much relevance does a name play in identity as children grow?

A name isn’t as crucial as the environment it’s used in

Clinical psychologist Dr Claire Halsey, an expert in child development and child psychology, says: “It is important to think carefully about the name and [parents] may spend lots of time finding something meaningful.

“But it isn’t actually about the name – except in exceptional circumstances where there is a really unusual name. The most important thing is actually the family environment – it’s more important to focus on the parent-child bond.”

Read: Is choosing unique names for our children a feature of evolution?

She adds: “Loving nicknames may be more significant – some may be embarrassing and make a child feel insecure.”

Clinical psychologist Dr Seb Thompson says names do play some role in identity – but it certainly isn’t the only factor.

“I think that names matter to some extent because it is how that person will ultimately identify, but what probably matters a lot more to their sense of identity and wellbeing is if they are given a good environment to grow and flourish,” says Dr Thompson.

“Two people with the same name but different upbringings will turn out differently because it is about nurturing no matter the name.”

Self-worth and identity aren’t decided by external factors

Much of a child’s self-knowledge should come from within them, but names do come with implications.

“How people know you and how you refer to yourself will come with positive and negative associations,” says Dr Thompson. “Even if you meet someone where the associations are negative there is a chance to reform that.

“It is about creating a core, stable sense of self. Helping a child to form a solid sense of self is vital for parents because they are the main attachment figure.”

Read: Vintage baby names making a comeback

The risk of being singled out or lost in the crowd

It can be difficult to know what names could potentially cause a child problems in the future, but it can help to research or talk to other people about any negative connotations you might not have spotted before.

“My children are called Noah and Oscar. I think they were names that we would be comfortable with using, names that had positive associations,” says Dr Thompson. “Fundamentally for me we didn’t want a name that was going to single a child out.”

But that may not always be a bad thing, according to Dr Halsey. “Negative connotations to a name may lead to your child being teased but actually may allow parents to encourage their child to be more robust and manage that, helping them feel more secure.”

While children with very popular names may find they are given a nickname at school to differentiate between different Olivias, Noahs or Amelias.

“Having a really common name – say there are five Jakes in a class – may cause a bit of confusion but actually they may end up being a group of Jakes, which can be quite nice for feeling together,” says Dr Halsey.

Names bind us to family

“We do see meaning in names affecting us,” she adds. “We know it has been chosen by our parents and has arrived with us in a loving and caring way. [They] may be connected to family, maybe a meaningful place for example, but even if it isn’t, we fuse with the name we have and it becomes significant.”

Read: Most popular baby names in Australia since 1950

Ultimately, you can only do your best

You cannot predict every trial and trend that may come with a name and worry about the implications for your child. If you choose what you believe is a unique name, you need to like it enough if it later enters the top 10 – or a person with the name becomes famous.

Dr Halsey says: “Parents do the very best they can and have chosen a name with love.”

What do you think of the top baby names for 2022? If you could change your own name, would you choose something more unique? Let us know in the comments section below.

Ellie Baxter
Ellie Baxter
Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.
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