What Do You Do When Your Kid Starts Using Abusive Words

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On one of our most lucky days, we are faced with a super awkward situation where we are sandwiched between our extremely capable kids who have just uttered some of the most effective forbidden words with such style & fervor and the people with whom we want our reputation to be spotless. Crash!!! Never mind, it happens all the time and we cannot shoot the messenger, can we? We can either sheepishly squirm in our seats, ring in the legendary artificial laughter and toss aside the small but very prominent error, shoot out an angry glance to the kid or want to hide somewhere forever. But what has happened cannot be reversed and we are left with a question that is staring at us with two mischievous yet innocent eyes.

We all know the sources. Someone spoke the word in school. Or your kid heard it on TV or maybe he/she overheard someone use it (let’s not get into who he/she heard) but the fact of the matter is we are parents with an exhaustive line up of tasks and we cannot keep hovering over our kids all the time or else we face the risk of turning into helicopters. So what do we do? Let’s deal with the problem hands on! And show them who the boss is.

And so a friend’s daughter dropped her book and said f***! And we all turned around to bless the kid with our condescending glances. But what my friend did after that was worth a thousand glances more. She asked her 7 year old calmly if she knew the meaning of the word she had just uttered. When her kid said no, she went on to explain that the word had a meaning very different from the anger she felt at the fallen book, “So why not use the right word? Try ‘Oh No’ instead. Wouldn’t you like to be called by your correct name?” Matter solved, awkwardness gone.

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Kids generally don’t realize the profanity & the obscenity of most of the words they pick up. They have heard them and want to experiment. If your kid goes a step further and asks you what the word actually means which they generally do, you should schedule the talk later and explain but if you avoid they will never know how inappropriate the word is and will continue blabbering it.

I’d like to share an anecdote here. A little girl called her mother ‘Hi sexy!’ Her dad wanted to handle this situation his way and said “Sexy, my dear, is not the right word for good looking women like your mom. So let’s call her beautiful instead.” The girl was quick to respond, “Oh Okay, so that means we can call the other aunties who are not so lovely, sexy?” Well. We all know what answer she must have received but this gives us a glimpse into the innocent minds of children and how easily they can be influenced.

This was shared by a practicing counsellor. An 8 year old boy kept repeating a few cuss words from a Hindi movie and had made a little song out of it. No matter what the parents did or explained, he did not appear to let go of his dear song and it was becoming a regular affair in front of guests as well as in public places too. Finally, the mother decided to get help and consulted this counsellor, who, after a lot of deliberation, asked the parents to ignore what the boy was doing. The going was very challenging in the beginning when the parents were showered with dirty looks but amazingly after 2 weeks, the kid stopped singing totally. Kids always do something out of the ordinary like using abusive words to gain attention too. When this kid realized he wasn’t getting the desired attention from his parents, he eventually stopped.

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And then there are the bad words that kids use, looking at someone known to them. Now this depends largely on where the kid has picked them up from (The other sources like friends and media can be monitored) but if it is from someone who the kid loves and looks up to, then unless that person sits and has a talk with the kid, things may not move in the desired direction. If that is not possible then parents can pitch in and explain the kid that probably that person made a mistake and was not supposed to use those words at all. If parents are the culprits (no offense) then apologizing and admitting your mistake in front of your kid is not a bad idea. It conveys to your kid that everyone can make mistakes but what is important is to rectify and learn from them.

Someone has wisely said that it is not the size of but the response to the problem that makes it big or small. These are small but tried and tested responses to a problem any parent would get threatened by and they work wonders.

Has your child stopped listening to you? Click here and know why…

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