Kids say the craziest things!

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Kids say the craziest things!

April 11, 2013

If there’s one thing that children are universally good at, it’s sharing embarrassingly honest commentary in public places. From commenting on strange clothing choices to pointing out physical differences, kids often bring to light the very thing that all the adults in the room are studiously ignoring. Because young children haven’t had much time to learn the more delicate aspects of sharing their feelings and tend to completely lack a verbal filter, there’s really no way to stop their mortifying comments from happening. What you can do, however, is learn the art of damage control.

Treat the Comments as a Learning Experience

The first thing you should do when your child blurts out an inappropriate observation is to apologize to anyone they’ve offended and make a concerted effort not to appear angry or ashamed of your child. Remember that she’s only learning how to process the world, and doesn’t yet have the years of training in social niceties that adults have endured. Instead of scolding your child for what she feels was an honest, harmless observation, take the opportunity to talk about tolerance and acceptance. Explain that all people are different, but that it can be hurtful for some people to have those differences pointed out. Make sure that you stay calm, as sending the message that you’re angry will only confuse and upset your child.

Put Off the Deep Discussions

While it may be tempting to launch into a lengthy diatribe about the importance of being nice to others or accepting everyone’s differences, the truth is that a public setting may not be the place for such conversations. It’s important to explain to your child that everyone is different while you’re in the moment, and then remind her that you’ll talk about the situation more when you get home.

Compliment His Observation Skills

Your child doesn’t realize that what he’s saying could be construed as hurtful or mean; he’s simply sharing his observations about the world around him. While you won’t want to tell him that you’re proud of him for hurting someone’s feelings, you may want to take a moment when you’re alone to praise him for noticing his environment. Rather than squelching that urge by harshly punishing him or shushing him, make sure that you take the opportunity to explain how proud you are of him for paying attention to everyone around him, and tell him that it’s okay to ask questions about things that he doesn’t understand as long as he does so in the proper way. Follow that assertion with an explanation about asking those questions quietly and in a less public setting when they’re about a person he sees.

Talk About the Difference Between Questions and Opinions

Your child needs to know that she lives in an open environment, and that it’s always okay to ask questions about things that she doesn’t understand. She should also understand, though, that there’s a very big difference between pointing out differences that she doesn’t like and asking questions. Make sure that your child understands that it’s never okay to share a hurtful observation about how other people look, no matter how much she doesn’t like something.

Don’t Put Her on the Spot

Demanding that your child apologize to the person she’s offended may seem like an effective way of avoiding similar situations in the future, but it only puts her on the spot and makes her feel uncomfortable, too. When your child is very young, it’s more effective for you to handle the damage control, and then talk about the kinds of subjects that aren’t appropriate for public discussion.

Keep it Brief

There’s plenty of time to discuss the finer point of social niceties when you’re in the relative privacy of your own home and to talk about the differences he’ll notice between other people when he goes out. When you’re in the moment, however, make sure that you keep the conversation as brief as possible to avoid further embarrassing commentary. Just apologize to the offended party, then quietly but firmly put an end to the line of questioning in a way that doesn’t send your child the message that he’s in trouble for asking.

The most important part of handling such a mortifying situation is realizing that your child doesn’t mean to hurt people, and that you’ll probably never see that random woman at the drugstore again. Make sure that you apologize, but also make sure that you don’t leave your child with the impression that curiosity is a bad trait to have.

 

Guest Post by Nanny Websites

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