My three year old told me to “Piss off!” a few weeks ago.
Did I punish him?
Of course not! Here’s why.
1. He did not learn that word by himself. In this case, he overheard me shouting it at my husband who was trying to tickle me. I was laughing. It was a fun moment and so to my son, it must seem like something you say in times of fun. He said it to me with a big smile, while we were
having a funny conversation.
2. He was not being malicious. He was doing what he does with every other word he hears. Plays with the language, explores it and figures out how to use it properly.
3. How much of a hypocrite would I be if I told him off for doing the exact same thing he witnessed me doing?
4. We don’t punish. Ever. We talk, we communicate, we look for triggers and we work things out with respect, love and understanding for one another. We don’t believe in teaching him to be a kind person by being intentionally cruel or unkind to him. Our actions matter far more than our words in the lessons he learns.
No, it’s not something I really want him to be saying, especially as it is hard for him to understand appropriate context for a word like that. I expect there are people who may be offended by it, not that I think he would say it to anyone but me and his Daddy. But the only way I can be sure he doesn’t continue to use that word is to stop using it myself – or at the very least be aware of not using it when he is listening. (So always then! 😉 )
If I were to have made a big deal out of it at the time, the only thing that would have happened is that I would have succeeded in making that word somehow special, and no doubt he would end up using it far more frequently. So the answer was not to push blame and guilt on him, but instead, to look at my own behaviour.
And isn’t that always the best route to take in parenting?
Several weeks later and he has lost interest in the word and never uses it any more, though he did play with it for the rest of that week a couple more times.
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