Suppose I am a teacher trying to discourage my kid to do bad things, I might proceed in 2 ways.

  1. 'Kid, if you do anything bad, I will personally come and beat you up'

In this way, I can say I am appealing to the kid's sense of fear.

But I could also say:

  1. 'Kid, look at those people who did bad things, they become despised and rejected. You don't want to be like them, do you?'

So I am appealing to the kid's sense of 'I don't want to be like them' or 'I can do better than this'. It is not exactly fear, or superiority. What is it?

  • Shame? Integrity? Jan 7, 2018 at 11:23
  • 1
    I suspect the word would be more closely tied to the reason they don't want to be like them than simply that they don't want to be like them. So more self-esteem or popularity than role-model selection or denigration.
    – Lawrence
    Jan 7, 2018 at 11:38
  • "Can't relate to," "can't identify with" should carry the needed sense. Though not a single word, "relate to" and "identify with" are idiomatic phrases that have the exactly opposite meaning.
    – Kris
    Jan 7, 2018 at 12:57
  • It's still fear: fear of being like them.
    – Davo
    Jan 8, 2018 at 21:45
  • I think Davo's dead right. "Fear" or at least "aversion" or "repulsion" are the drivers when the feeling is specified as a negative "I don't want to be like them". "Integrity" or "self-respect" or their ilk suit only positive exhortations like "Try to be like the good guys". Example 2 is different only in measure: it's still a negative suggestion fuelled by fear; just a lesser fear. Suppose you think of another example, which describes situation you're really hoping to use this in, please? Jan 22, 2018 at 2:37

7 Answers 7


I would say you are appealing to the kid's self-respect.

pride and confidence in oneself; a feeling that one is behaving with honor and dignity.


I would've thought that you're appealing to the child's sense of morality.


A word for the feeling of 'I don't want to be like them'

"I don't want to be like them" is not a feeling, but maybe you meant the feeling that derives from that thought. That feeling would be fear.

'Kid, look at those people who did bad things, they become despised and rejected. You don't want to be like them, do you?'

I think the concept you're describing is fear arousal.

'I can do better than this'

This concept describes downward-comparison.


The common phrase in this situation is to appeal to someone's better nature:

‘Charlotte planned to appeal to his better nature’

So in your example, you are appealing to the kids' better natures.


It would be far, far better to find a positive role model, who behaves as you wish the child to behave, and ask them to 'be like him'. Then you could use the word 'inspiration'.

In the example you give, the word might be 'avoidance' 'self-disgust' or 'self-abnegation'.

None of which are inspiring or would be in my book of 'good parenting' - quite the opposite!

Better give kids a positive role to copy - for how can you copy a negative?

How can you do - not doing something!

Show them instead the positive thing to do - and they will follow it with joy - relieving you of your role of following them around kicking them in the ass! Try it for yourself, too...

So, I am saying, there's a third way - which is to be a great example - yourself.

If you want your kid to read more - let them see you reading a book.

If you want them more honest - show your honesty.

If you want them more polite - show your consideration - etc.

  • You make good points, but this is the EL&U site, not the Parenting site.
    – Tom Zych
    Mar 13, 2018 at 7:49
  • Humanity sometimes indicates the need to answer the deeper question
    – Jelila
    Mar 14, 2018 at 13:43

You are provoking his/her sense of regret. You are telling the kid that "if you do bad things, there will be bad thing as a reason of it, so you will regret that in the end."

So I think the suitable word for your question can be regret.


You can, if you wish, say that "you do not want to end up like those men did".


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