When Good Kids Bring Home Bad Words

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When Good Kids Bring Home Bad Words

Don’t you love it when your kiddo comes home and repeats an oh-so lovely new “phrase” they learned at school or on the playground? I like to call it playground smack talk.  And today I’m talking about how to handle it when good kids bring home bad words…and am asking you to share how you do, too!

My two cents…

I know there’s only so much we can do to protect our kids, albeit from owies, hurt feelings, dangerous or embarrassing situations…and being exposed to kid “smack talk.” Because part of our job as a mom is to let our little ones experience the world.  Experience their own emotions and feelings, and experience expressing them.

And with that, comes the constant testing, pushing boundaries, and pushing buttons.

One of my buttons?  Potty talk.  Recent example from my 4-yeard-old – “You’re a big fat poopy head!”

Lovely, right? (Yes, I’m cringing right now).

And I know that they are probably repeating something that they heard and are simply testing it out.  You want to know how I know this?  Because Disney Junior does not use the phrase “big fat poopy head.”  And neither do my husband and I (scout’s honor).

It also goes the other way…”Mommy, so-and-so called me a silly old chicken on the playground.  What does that mean?” (lip quivering). This makes my heart hurt.

Ugh. I know that with my kiddos, they can be both the instigators AND the recipients of smack talk, depending on the day and the situation.

So how can we help curb this kind of talk and equip our kids with how to best handle it if it happens to them?

Five ideas to combat playground smack talk…

1. Teach them to report it to an adult
Notice how I said “report” and not “tattle” – lol.  I just wrote a blog on teaching kids the difference between the two!  If they’re in a school, playground or park situation, then I tell my kids to first ask the child “who’s not talking nice” to stop – and try to resolve it themselves.  If they continue, I instruct my kids to tell a teacher, parent or adult on-duty.  Sometimes our kiddos need that extra help.  And I believe it’s easier to nip it in the bud immediately, if possible.

2. Consistency
Kids are constantly testing their boundaries, right?  So my hubby and I try to stay as consistent as possible in correcting potty talk and back-talk every time we hear it.  Same rules every time – in our home, it’s unacceptable language, especially when you are using it against someone else.

On a side note…I believe this “smack” talk is a completely normal part of growing up.  But it can’t be funny sometimes and disciplined other times.

3. Teach empathy
Whether my kid is the instigator (and I catch them) or they come to me with hurt feelings because someone else has said something, I ask them how it makes them feel.  How does it make them feel to have it being said to them…or how would it make them feel if someone called them that? We talk about it from this angle, and I try to use it as a lesson in empathy.

4. Different families, different rules
Ooooo, this is a toughie.  We’re all doing our best as parents, and we all have difference rules in our homes.  That’s hard for kids to understand sometimes, especially in a group social setting.  So I emphasize with my kids that in our home, it is okay to say “x,y,z,” and not okay to say, “x,y,z.”  I get confused looks and sometimes, ‘that’s not fair” – but to my kids, I say this:  it is what it is.

5. Apologize
Of course, I think this goes without saying.  If my kiddo was (gulp) the instigator, I ask them to apologize to the child they may have hurt or offended.  If my baby is the recipient, I give extra hugs, TLC, and listen to what they have to say.

Okay mamas, help me out!  What do you do to combat smack talk?  What do you do when good kids bring home bad words? What works for your family?  Please share below!


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  1. 1
    jen says:

    Great post – I am so with you on consistency – that to me is the key. After hearing what is “NOT okay” to say in our house, or anywhere, time and time again, pretty soon they are able to detect things kids say that are NOT okay on their own. I love to watch my kid’s faces when other kids say something inappropriate, because they KNOW it’s bad. Their eyes get big and look at me to see if I also heard it. And then I feel proud to be raising girls that know the difference!! 🙂

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