Dealing With Trash Talk -- Ask Mrs Manners

bad language and cursingThe toddler years are the perfect age to start teaching your kids manners and good habits. And MrsManners aka: Angela Pitre, owner of the CM group Manners for the Modern Family and, is here to help.

Dear MrsManners:

My three and a have year old son's language is getting out of hand. He's not only using dirty words but bad language, i.e: he told my husband the other night "I don't love you anymore, I wish you would go, away and my mommy will take care of me."

This hurt my husbands feeling's horribly, even though he knows our son is just three. He also tells me, "You may be the boss of me, but you are not my mommy," or "You are not the boss of me."  We do give time outs and consequences, but it's not doing much good. Do you have any suggestions on what we might try? -- choconut08


MrsManners says:

I think most parents have heard something like this from their toddler, and just like for you, it still hurts, age or not. It's okay to feel that way, but know you'll get through it and you can take advantage of this teachable moment.

His words are adult and hurtful, but he probably doesn't know what they mean. It's the reaction he wants. Even the slightest twinge on your part can give a child the ammunition they need to keep spewing vitriol. You or your husband may not even realize the look of shock or hurt on your face, but he certainly does.

The other possibility is that he is acting out. If he's angry, he may not know how to express it the right way yet, so it comes out in the form of hurtful words. Only you know if there is something going on that would cause him to be angry. Maybe he didn't get his way or he's dealing with some big life change.

Either way, I suggest that you start working with him on feelings. We touched on this topic a bit last week too, but this situation gives us another way to look at them. When he says these things, try putting him in time out. After he's calmed down, explain to him that some words hurt -- the same as if he kicked or hit you.

"You know not to do those things, right? So you shouldn't use hurtful words either."

This won't deliver overnight results, but keep at it. And examine possible outside influences. Your son may be picking up the words from a friend on a play date. If that's the case, address it in a similar way, but explain that just because someone else uses those words, it doesn't mean it's okay for him to say them.

Don't forget that you ARE the boss of your son, at least for another 15 years. It's okay to let him know that it's your job to make the choices and decisions that are best for him. All children test their borders with the "you are not the boss of me" statement.  They will push you to your outer most limits, and it is up to you to say enough is enough.

Good luck and keep us posted.




Past Ask Mrs Manners columns:

Refusing to Pick Up Toys

Dining Out With Toddlers

Attention, Please!

Spoiling vs. Nurturing

Strangling the Dog

Please Don't Interrupt!

10 Signs Your Toddler Is a Brat

Banish the Burp

Should Kids Be Forced to Share Toys?

Winging the Pacifier

Should Parents Say 'Thank You'?

Toddlers Eating Everything

Throwing-Obsessed Toddlers

Are You a Hypocrite?

Pushy Toddlers

Taming the Messy Eater

How to Have Well Behaved Toddlers

My Son Won't Stop Touching Other Moms' Breasts!

Is Shyness Impolite?

Stop Peer Pressure Early

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