How to Help Your Kid Cope When Everyone Shares the Same Popular Name

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Group Of Elementary Age Schoolchildren Answering Question In ClaShe’s a grown woman now, but Jessica Adams remembers well the frustration of growing up with a popular first name a couple of decades ago.

“I stopped responding to my first name for a while in high school because I figured it wasn’t me,” she said. “Also, I never got one of those little license plates with my name on it because they were always sold out.”

New parents today might think that they’re helping their kids avoid such predicaments by picking names they believe to be unique — until they see popular baby names lists, like the ones recently released by Once uncommon names like Khaleesi, which figures prominently in the hit book series and TV show “Game of Thrones,” and Silas, made popular by the TV show “Weeds,” are now near the top, The Huffington Post reports. (Jessica didn’t even crack the top 100 for girls.)

If you’re disappointed that your child’s name has unexpectedly surfaced on a top baby names ranking, take heart. There are steps you can take to help your child cope with the perils of having a popular moniker. Dr. Steve Pastrynak, Division Chief of Pediatric Psychology at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said that as with other problems, you can choose one of two strategies: either find a solution to the problem, or try to alter your child’s perception of the issue.

If you’re going with the first option, you can consider letting your child use a middle name or a nickname. The sooner you do that, the better, Dr. Pastrynak noted, “so that friends and family can adopt that name as the one to use.” Just be wary about choosing something too unusual that could create new problems for your child.

If you’d rather your child stick to her given name, then it’s important to acknowledge your child’s frustration. You should “never dismiss how your child feels, even if it seems irrational to you,” Dr. Pastrynak said.

Next, explain to your child what’s wonderful about her name. Say, “We named you ‘Emma’ because we felt it was such a beautiful name and reminded us of…”

And don’t forget to remind her about the things beyond her name that make her special. A child’s frustrations with a given name may stem from concerns that she isn’t unique.

“Any steps to help them recognize the positive things about themselves and their names should help,” Dr. Pastrynak said.

As an adult, Jessica Adams has found positive aspects to having a popular name. For one thing, no one mispronounces it. And she doesn’t mind seeing her name used in online articles (like this one) either.

“There are so many Jessica Adamses,” she explained, “that it’s practically anonymous.”

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