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On My Mind
August 2018

Hey Buddy

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of Developmental Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Pediatr. 2018;172(8):720. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.0611

About 15 years ago, in my primary care and developmental-behavioral pediatric practices, I noticed that virtually every English-speaking family started calling their children “buddy.” (In fact, my non–English-speaking patients might have been doing the exact same thing, but I did not recognize it.) Once I noticed it in my office, I heard it everywhere I was in contact with parents and young children. I was perplexed. Why had everyone stopped speaking to their children by name or with some endearment like “honey” and started calling them “buddy?” I once asked a mother why she called her son “buddy” all the time, and she replied, somewhat concerned, “I don’t know. Recently I noticed that I did that and wondered if he knew his name.” Of course, she was joking, and he knew his name, but I did wonder whether the new nickname would be a short fad or would persist.

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