This morning, AC Featured Contributor R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen had a great post on her Facebook account. She suggested that we stop using certain phrases in an inappropriate manner. I thought that was a great idea and that it needed to be expanded on. So, how do you teach your children to use their words properly?
When I had a daycare, I learned just how powerful words could be. I actually made a rule against the phrases “I can’t” and “special needs”. It’s obvious why the “I can’t” needed to be removed, but what about “special needs”? Well, I actually had a few children in my daycare who happened to have some issues, but I didn’t feel that they needed to be defined by those issues. The problem was that it was usually a parent who used those terms. I could see the difference between the behavior of the children on the days they were reminded that they were “special needs” versus the days that they weren’t reminded.
Today, we virtually abuse words. Phrases like “that’s gay” turn a sexual preference into a cut down. Another phrase that was mentioned was “retarded”. For the record, that term isn’t even used in the mental health industry anymore, but we all know what it refers to and it’s also being used to put people or things down. The fact is that when words are abused like this, it does a couple of things. It makes the user look unintelligent, it’s rude to whatever population the term actually applies to and it’s rude to whatever or who ever the term is directed at.
When you encourage your child to use these words, you are encouraging them to develop the skills of a bully. Did you know that? Did you know that you are encouraging your child to use terms like these when you use them yourself or refuse to correct your child when they use these terms? Are you modeling rude and bullying behavior to your child? Here’s how you can help your child to avoid using words in an inappropriate manner.
Lead by example. I can’t say this often enough. Parent my tell their children to do as they say and not as they do, but it just doesn’t work that way. The behavior you offer your children to view is the behavior that they view as the foundation for what is acceptable in your house.
Use the dictionary. If or when your child uses terms in an inappropriate manner, get the dictionary out and have them look up the words they use. Ask them how the word could possibly be used correctly in the manner they are choosing to use it.
Bring Grandma into the discussion. Have you ever felt like your child behaves better somewhere else than at your own home? Do you consider it a sign of disrespect. While the behavior may be disrespectful, it also demonstrates a level of comfort that your children have with you. Sometimes you need an outside source. If and when your children use terms they shouldn’t or use them in a rude manner, ask them if they would say that in front of their grandmother or someone else they respect.
Words can be quite painful. This is even more so the case when words are used in a rude manner and have the potential to hurt someone’s feelings. You may not even know that the words have hurt someone else. Why take the chance? Why be that rude? Encourage your children to broadcast their intelligence and manners by using their words correctly.