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It’s understandable that parents-to-be want to pick a name that they don’t associate with anyone else. A name that none of the people or children they know have; or at least a name that doesn’t have a bad association because of certain children in the neighborhood or family. It has to be a name that’s really special and original because it was given to this child specifically.

Be cautious, however, when you pick an unusual name. Research shows that children with unordinary names have more trouble adjusting at school. They are more likely to feel like the odd one out and are a possible target for bullies. An unusual name also turns out to have a negative effect on someone’s popularity, grades, mental health, and stress level at work. In an experiment done by Harari and McDavid, it was found that teachers grade a paper higher if written by a child with an ordinary name as opposed to an unusual or unpopular name as opposed to when they were led to believe that the child had an unusual or unpopular name (see: Harari, H. & McDavid, J.W. (1973). Teachers` expectations and name stereotypes. Journal of Educational Psychology 65, pp 222–225). Apparently, the teachers were influenced in their decision by the name that was on the paper. This same phenomenon has been reported taking place in work settings by human resource professionals, and has been an influence in the case of authors`, actors` and artists` success.

Our advice: Don’t make things too complicated! Even if you both manage to agree on a certain difficult name, think about the fact that your child will have to go through life with it. Time and time again your child will have to spell his name and explain its meaning. At school, and also later at work, your child’s unusual name will make him feel like the odd one out.