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My son's preschool requested that we label all his items with his name. I'm wondering if it is better to include his full name (so he learns to recognize it), or if it is safer to include just a first name and last initial. The safety concern is not so much about the school as about when he might have these labeled items in public spaces. I have heard recommendations, for example, to only label travel items with a child's initials so that a stranger can't address them by name and seem familiar.

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Typically labels on items of clothing or similar will not be visible while the child is wearing them - maybe on the tag or some other inside piece. As such, safety isn't too much a concern - strangers won't be able to see them.

Beyond that, first name is the primary safety concern, anyway - the idea here is that if someone says, "Hi Mary, how are you doing? I'm your dad's friend," it's more likely to be effective than if they don't say the child's name (as knowing their name puts them in the "safe place" of adults they can talk to). Last name isn't nearly as useful.

All that said, we typically included first name and initial, not due to safety concerns, but due to space - our child's last name is 12 characters long, and that would be a lot of space to use on a tag of a glove! We would even have left off the initial if it hadn't been that there was another child with the same first name. The focus here is primarily on "getting back lost items" rather than learning - they'll have plenty of chances to learn their name.

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    We only use the last name, since we are going to use the clothes (or what is left of them) for the younger sibling(s) later on.
    – Kjara
    Jul 15 at 10:01

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