Do you have a parenting hurdle you’re working through? If so, “The Parenting Post” is for you! One of our writers, Albiona, has been answering all of YOUR parenting questions over on IG. We’ve turned her series into blog posts on our website as well. We just can’t get enough of her helpful advice, and we thought you’d appreciate it, too!
Her videos cover a wide variety of parenting questions–honestly, anything and everything! If it’s something you’re wondering, there’s a really good chance that another parent in our community is struggling with it, too. And Albiona is here to help!
This week, she’s focusing on language learned at school (that’s not usually used at home) and how to best handle it. This is tricky, because it can be really triggering when our kids use language that we don’t quite approve of. However, it helps to remember that this is simply an invitation for open conversation with your kids about acceptable words to use within your home.
What should I do when my kids pick up language that I don’t necessarily like from school, and start using these words at home?
Raise your hand if this situation is familiar to you! A lot of times, the language learned at school might be swear words or words that aren’t usually used inside your home. The big thing here is: how do we respond to this language as parents?
If your child is school-aged and they’re coming home and using these words, you can have a conversation about it. You don’t have to have an immediate, reactive response to it. Sometimes we are so caught off guard by the swear word (or whatever the word is) that we’re like, “What?! Don’t say that!”
For the child who is a little bit more reserved and doesn’t want to get in trouble, that type of response might work really quickly because they will think, “Oh, I’m not doing that again. Somebody didn’t like it.” But in cases where you have a stronger-willed child, they might think, “Oh, I think I might try that again!” So you really want to be very careful with how you respond, and really understand what your child needs.
You could start by saying, “I haven’t heard you say that before. Where did you hear that?”
Have a conversation about the language learned at school, and then get into some rules around it. You might then say, “I think maybe you thought it was funny because your classmate said it. You know, everybody’s family has different rules, and I’m not here to say what’s right or what’s wrong, but in this house, our rule is that those words aren’t used/we don’t use that type of language.”
In some cases, if you swear a lot, this can be dicey, because your kids have likely heard you say some of that language. You’ll want to talk with them about why on your end, you make it okay to swear. An honest conversation is going to be the best way to move forward, and then build some things in place so that they know that they can’t use that language.
You can also teach a time and a place for these types of things.
If it’s a scenario where the child is much older and they’re starting to swear or something like that, you might try saying something like, “Maybe with friends in social settings, if you’re not saying those words to hurt anyone’s feelings and it’s just the way you’re communicating with your friends, I can’t really say no. It’s your choice.”
But here’s the thing with school, around family, with friends, whatever the case is: you’re going to want to highlight where they can and can’t use that language. For younger kids, I would definitely just have a conversation. I wouldn’t make them feel guilty or ashamed about it, and I wouldn’t utilize any kinds of punishment or anything like that. With a conversation, you can really get ahead of it, and you can simply say, “Hey, you really can’t say that, I just explained why.”
Or, you might just want to have them take a quick break.
If they continue to say those words, then you want to intervene sooner and not wait. A break is NOT a time out. Breaks can even be when we just need a minute to reflect or calm down. They can happen sometimes when we’re super excited and we just need to settle down.
So, let’s say they choose to use the language again, after knowing that they’re not supposed to. Have them take a quick break. Remove them from whatever it is that they’re doing. Have them sit with you–don’t leave them alone–and give them a minute to think about what they just did. Then, they can go back and engage in the activity they were originally doing.
Every time the language is used, you just give a quick break. It allows for some intervening. So rather than giving a ton of reminders about appropriate language to use at home, and then coming in with a really strong consequence that’s not necessary, you’ll really get ahead of it by just giving a few quick breaks early on.
Do you have more parenting questions for Albiona? Leave them below so she can possibly answer them for you. To learn more, you can follow Albiona on Instagram. Or, subscribe to her weekly newsletter and download her free guide for teaching parents how to get their kids to listen.