Parenting is hard. It is a challenge and everyday throws new curveballs. While trying to raise good children, we parents are filled with self-doubts and then there is the judgement from other parents.
This happened to me
One day at the supermarket, walking hand in hand with my 6-year-old (bringing a 6-year-old to the supermarket was a grave mistake in the first place – little did I know!) trying to check everything on my grocery list and all of a sudden I was in for a surprise. What awaited me was a tantrum for a box of chocolate or a can of soda (a distinction without a difference!)! When I was trying to be a calm and composed mother, my wailing son throws in the “S” word!
Having publicly crowned as “S-STUPID Mommy!” I did everything in my capacity to save face. Now, I could ignore the store clerk’s discontented look. I could disregard the disgusted stare from other shoppers but what really hit me hard was the condescending looks from other mommies! I felt their eyes on me and hear them thinking what kind of mother lets her child use such language?
By the time I reached home, I was frantically questioning my parenting skills. I wanted to understand what brought this on. Where did my child learn this kind of behavior? Was I at fault ? Was he reiterating things that I spoke in front of him (some self-reflection was in order!).
I spoke at length with my child and he helped me learn a lot about good kids using bad words. I understood that at this tender age, our little ones take everything literally. The way I interact with him or with other people has a consequential effect on his personality.
Here are some suggestions that’ll help in averting good kids from using bad words,
Define Bad Words
Parents must clearly define tolerable and intolerable words in a conversation. The child can be provided with a glossary comprising of healthy replacements for foul words.
Children have feelings just like we do. At times, they feel strongly about certain issues (deny them chocolate and you’ll know what I’m talking about!). What we need to accept as parents, is that they are free to express their feelings. If my child feels I’m being stupid, then he has every right to feel this way. I can sort out his feelings and explain to him the reason behind my decision/behavior. But, at the heat of the moment, he won’t have a listening ear for me. I need to prepare him in advance, to tackle the same situation smartly I have given him alternative (more acceptable and less harsh!) words to express his feelings.
On certain occasions, I have found my son to be using foul words just to get my attention. When I feel that his negative behavior is just a cry for attention, I simply step away and give him some space.
I struggled a lot with this one, earlier I used to sit him down and gently explain why he shouldn’t talk the way he did. However, after a few incidents, I started observing that he uses the same word every time I am on a call or when I’m talking to my husband. I understood that he was doing this to get positive attention from me (and the “S-word” wasn’t taking a rest!). To remedy that, I started stepping away when he used a bad word and I am glad to announce I got compliance!
Remember, patience is a virtue and no one deserves your patience more than your own child.
All said and done, we need to acknowledge that these are young children. While, a bad word may embarrass us in front of family or friends these innocent young ones may not even realize that they have offended or embarrassed us. At times, they wouldn’t even know what the word means. If using bad words is a common practice with your child you may want to find the source of the problem.
Talk to his teacher, find out what kind of company he keeps at school, and intervene if necessary. If he is getting his supply of bad words or offensive language from a family member then talk to them and explain to them how their actions are impacting your child.
Be the Change
If my child heard me call my assistant stupid or incompetent, he is certainly going to repeat it (at the most inopportune moment!). So, the first to-do on my list was to watch my own language.
I have seen many parents practice double standards. The parent would tell the child, “I’m allowed to use a certain type of language but you are not”. That never works. Children are very perceptive of double standards and they won’t allow you to set different rules for yourself and them. PLAY FAIR. Treat each other respectfully and don’t preach what you won’t practice!
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