What NOT to Say in Front of Your Kids
Your kids hear everything: from the cuss word you accidentally utter when you shut your finger in the drawer to the conversation you have with your best friend about her impending divorce. Things you say shape your kids’ perceptions of the world, how they fit into it, and what is ok or not ok. So, what boundaries do you want to have in place to shape your kids’ perceptions in the most kid-friendly way?
- 1. WORDS. Cuss words, politically incorrect words, and crude or explicit words are inappropriate around kids. Once kids get to school, they will probably hear the occasional no-no word from classmates, and when your kids bring these words home, you then have an opportunity to discuss what those words mean and why you would like your kids not to use those particular words.
- 2. TOPICS. Some topics may be generally inappropriate (i.e., hurtful speech about another person) or age-inappropriate (i.e., your toddler overhearing your friend talk with great detail about her impending divorce). Kids are not born knowing what our society thinks is acceptable conversation. It’s up to you to instill this knowledge in your kids. You can accomplish this by leading by example. Don’t discuss no-no topics around your kids. Some topics are not generally no-no’s, but they may be age-inappropriate. You will need to determine at what age you want your kids to understand some very grown-up concepts. Using the example given above, most people agree that toddlers are too young to be exposed to the intricacies of divorce. So, steer clear of such discussions around your toddler. As your kids age, you can gradually expose them to subjects that you think are age-appropriate. If your kids hear the occasional no-no discussion or age-inappropriate discussion from school or elsewhere, they will ultimately bring these discussions home to you: you then have an opportunity to discuss what these discussions mean (in general terms) and why you find these discussions inappropriate for your kids.
What happens if you yourself are the source from which your kids heard the no-no word or topic? As soon as you know your kids heard you, visit with them about what they heard. Apologize to them for saying what you said. Tell them your behavior was not ok and tell them what boundary you crossed by saying what you said. Promise to do better going forward. Then, ask your kids if they have any questions they would like to ask you.
By following these steps, you can make conscious efforts to shape, via language, your kids’ perceptions of the world, how they fit into it, and what is ok or not ok.
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