Oh Sh#%! Da*& it! F#@*7! Hearing these words pop out of the mouth of a preschooler (or anyone else) can make hair stand straight out of one’s head. Needless to say, it usually happens at an inopportune moment such as a social gathering, in class, or at the dinner table! The 2-year-old shouting “Stupid head” or “Butthead” at passing cars usually triggers an instant alarm of fear as the parent realizes this could result in a carpool expulsion. Children are fascinated with “bad” words, and learn them quicker than their assigned vocabulary words. The initial response of laughter that the child receives is usually more than enough to fuel continuous repetitions of the offending language. The worst part is this negative behavior will take exponentially longer to break!The issue raised is not just limited to curse words. Bathroom or potty language and words which EtiKids refers to as S-wordsM (stupid, sh*t, sucks, and shut up) can also be a problem faced by a parent or teacher. Older children may think it is “cool” to use words that describe bodily functions and noises, while younger children mimic what they hear. Sometimes repeating bathroom words is a way to get a reaction or gain attention. Realize it is a way of experimenting with language. So, if trying out new words and learning how to communicate are part of learning social skills and manners, what is the best way to re-train a potty mouth child? Displaying a lack of interest is the simplest tactic to phase out incessant repetition of naughty expressions. Without strong feedback, most preschoolers won’t bother repeating these terms. Why bother if you can’t get a rise out of parents? Ask the child what the word means. Discourage use of words whose meanings are unknown. Explain why some words are offensive and hurtful to other people. X-rated vocabulary and forbidden words are not “cool” and can be banned by parents because they are inappropriate in almost all situations. Restrict bathroom words to the restroom. After a while, the child typically finds it tiresome to run back and forth to the lavatory just to talk about bodily functions and spill out potty words. Control word categories that are on the fringe. Growing up, the use of "S-words" was not tolerated. These expressions included: stupid, sh*t, sucks and shut up. Although the latter has become an acceptable phrase of surprise (or synonym for no kidding), telling someone to “shut up” is perceived as rude and insensitive. Monitoring TV programs can limit some exposure to words with derogatory meanings such as “butthead”, which became popular terminology following MTV's programming. Remind children that using insulting words or expressions can become a habit, slipping out without any warning and be embarrassing for everyone.Although the word hate has different meanings, we mention it here. It can be used in a spiteful manner and is a learned behavior. Shouting “I hate you!” to a parent is universal to children all over the world. A little 4-year-old friend repeated her mother’s favorite quote, “Hate is a very strong word, and we should never use it!” The More You Know public service campaign, (NBC 2003) reminded us, "Hate is a four-letter word. So is love. Which word will you teach your child?" Finally, the very best way to diminish the use of negative words is to set a positive example for children. Replace curse words with alternative phrases such as “Darn it! Dang! Good Grief! Geepers Creepers! Rats! Shucks!” Let us know your favorite expression! Or most inappropriate story. :) Contact us at Dear Julie or firstname.lastname@example.org with your stories.
Social skills are ways to teach people how to effectively integrate into society and must be practiced on a daily basis to obtain proficiency. Learning the proper way to conduct oneself in public will be helpful when first entering school, as well as maneuvering through the working world. Mastery of proper etiquette at an early age ensures that the behaviors will become innate, as children are capable of retaining vast amounts of information. One is never too young or never too old to obtain and relay good manners. 4 Social Skills to Teach Children: 1) Ask and You Will Receive…Nobody wants to play with Griffin Grabber! Imagine that you are making the world’s tallest tower (the Freedom Tower won’t even compare!). You use the special arced blocks to create an archway at the base and are so excited to show this to your friends. Griffin Grabber comes along and gasps because HE wants the arced blocks that are at the base of your building. Instead of asking, he thrusts his hands forward and takes them from the bottom of your building; thus, the building falls down, as the weight of the top was no longer being supported. At this point, you are pretty frustrated because there were two other arcs that he could have used for his construction, and you surely would have given them to him if he just ASKED for them. That skill is important to learn at an early age, as it is extremely important in the years to follow. To a 4 year old, knocking down a block structure is an absolute travesty. Relating to adult terms, taking/grabbing an item from someone else will create a very sticky situation, which can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. 2) Chew With Your Lips Closed“What am I eating? Sea Food! Get it, SEE food?!” (Show the food in your mouth). Totally unnecessary and unpleasant. When something is in your mouth, whether it is food or gum or ANYTHING, make sure to close your lips when you chew. There is a reason the human body was designed with lips that are extremely flexible flaps of skin that are able to conceal your teeth- even when they are apart. People are meant to cover their mouth with their lips, so the churning food is not visible for all to see. It also prevents one from talking with their mouth full, which is a choking hazard! Finally, it ensures that food does not wind up on the person across the table by the “say it, don’t spray it” method. 3) Thank YouWhether someone is pouring you more water, handing you that coveted toy, or staying late at work to help YOU complete a task, everyone deserves a “thank you.” Thank you is a way of saying “I appreciate what you have done” and recognize that “serving” you is not required. Plus, it is polite to acknowledge that someone has given you something, albeit services or goods. Feeling entitled to have people assist you without conceding gratitude will cause others to become resentful of your demands (and less likely to complete them).4) Conversations take TwoWhen you were little, playing with the dolls, animals and other toys was entertaining, even when in solitude because YOU provided the voices and personalities of the other “people” in your play. Very rarely do we see grownups playing with Barbie or Transformers without a small child nearby; therefore, 1 person carrying on a conversation with 2+ people is not the “norm.” Since more than one person is involved in the conversation, all parties must be included and participate in the conversation. That means: one person does not do all of the talking. It is always exciting to be able to say your opinions, but it is very important to listen to those of others as well, as they want to have the spotlight, too. Asking questions is necessary, but the response must be heard. We teach this skill to children and need to remind them that everyone needs a turn to speak. There are 2 people in the conversation, not just one.Stay tuned for more “4 Social Skills to Teach Children.” Please contact Dear Julie or email Julie at email@example.com if you have any questions, suggestions or comments. PS- Check out the new Facebook Page: EtiKids!