Little kids have this way of being brutally honest in every facet of their life (that is, when they don’t tell an obvious lie about eating all the cupcakes, even if their faces are smeared. icing). Many young children appreciate honesty, and when they are still too young to understand how their words can hurt, offend, or embarrass someone else, they can say really crazy things.
Sure, we want to raise honest kids, but we also don’t want to get stuck in a grocery line with a little kid showing the woman in front of you and saying, “Mom, that lady is really tall. ”
Unfortunately, it’s hard to teach a child how to develop and use a verbal filter (some people never quite handle it), but there are a few things you can teach them over time to minimize the number. of people they offend along the way.
You don’t have to say all you thought
Spending time with a small child means witnessing, in real time, the inner workings of their brain. In other words, if they see something, they feel obligated to tell you about it. If they think a thing, they have to say it. When I used to drive my three year old adopted son to visit his birth parents who lived 90 minutes away, it was a full 90 minute commentary on the weather, trees and bridges – all the way and all the way back.
But just like we have private parts of our body, we can teach our children that we also have private parts of our thoughts. You can encourage this when they are jamming by saying that you want to take a few minutes to have private thoughts. They’ll be so curious what you’re thinking (you’ll think how happy temporary silence is, which of course you won’t tell them), but you model the idea for them that you can take away from it. things back.
It can also help you get into a conversation about the difference between secrets, privacy and surprises when it comes to disclosing information to others.
We don’t comment on other people’s bodies
It is the kind of blunt “honesty” that is most likely to cause embarrassment or hurt feelings – criticism or description of someone else’s body or appearance. It might come out of nowhere, where one day they suddenly start commenting on the cashier’s “boy’s haircut” or their father’s “big belly”.
We can emphasize with them that compliments, like ‘you look pretty’ or ‘i like your shoes’ it’s okay because they make people feel good. But commenting in another way about a person’s size, shape, or style can hurt their feelings. Watch for opportunities to highlight it; for example, if someone on a TV show calls another character “chubby” in a derogatory way, you might say, “Oh, that wasn’t nice. I bet it hurt their feelings. It would definitely hurt my feelings, which is why I don’t talk about other people’s bodies that way.
When you are in right now you can deflect it by saying something like, “Yes his hair is cut short, it looks very pretty like that” or “I don’t think daddy’s tummy is big at all, but remember – we do not comment on other people’s bodies.
You are not a food critic
Small children don’t care if you’ve just spent an hour preparing a delicious home-cooked meal; if it smells awesome, tastes weird, or has a texture they’re not used to, you’re likely to have their most dramatic disgusted face, with a nice, “Ew, disgusting!” for good measure. This one is especially difficult for a child who is selective about the flavors and textures he enjoys eating.
For these children, teaching them early (and often) at home about the “polished bite” can avoid a situation where they proclaim that Grandma’s famous homemade meatballs actually taste like the trash. You certainly don’t need to force them to eat something you know they don’t like it, but if it’s a new food they’re trying, they can take a ‘polished bite’ or take a test to try it – if they don’t like it or don’t. ‘want more, they can just say, “No, thank you.” No further criticism is necessary or helpful.
At first, that “no thank you” will also be accompanied by a look of absolute disgust, but we’re getting there.
The “no offense, but” rule
This one is good for kids and adults alike, and it comes to us thanks to my sister-in-law. On an extended family vacation one summer when my son was maybe six or seven, he felt compelled to weigh in on something that was not his. “No fault, but…” he started, and what followed is something I can’t remember, but I’m sure it wasn’t great.
That’s when she taught him something that we should all take to heart: if you have to start a sentence with “no offense, but …”, what you are going to say next will be offensive. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t have to qualify it. So, whenever they feel compelled to preemptively excuse their rudeness, teach them that it’s best to ignore it altogether.
Once you’ve done all of that, just hold on tight so they get past it.