Words with Kids.

Emery loves words. She loves saying them, hearing them, dissecting them, rhyming them, teasing them and shouting them.

But mostly, she loves repeating them.

Again and again. She is never, ever silent. We can’t go anywhere without her engaging absolute strangers in deep conversation.

Hi! What your name is? (we’re working on that) I’m Emery. (To which they say, ‘Emily?’) Em-er-y. Do you have any kids? What there name is? (again, at least she’s consistent) How old are you? I’m 3. This is my sister, Blair. (as the little one is trying to climb out of the shopping cart or run into traffic) She’s 2. It was really nice talking to you!

You could say she’s a talker. Once upon a time, before children, I also loved to converse. Now I appreciate the silence that comes with the written word. Which is probably directly correlated to having a child who loves to talk.

At nearly 4, it isn’t often that she hears an unfamiliar word. So when she does, she savors that sweet nugget under tongue and waits for the right chance to use it. And more often than not, her ignorance to these words was rather intentional.

I’m pretty careful about what the girls watch and hear because you know it’s coming back out of her sweet little lips. And kids just know when a word is one not meant for repeating. This draw to forbidden words was kicked up a notch when she started preschool last fall. Suddenly “poopy,” “dirty underwear” and “stinky” became her favorite words.

It bothers me. It’s crude. It’s unnecessary. But they’re kids. I don’t want to be that mom who expects her kids to be perfect and always proper. They should be polite but they’re learning the power of words – both positively and negatively. So we talk about words and their meanings and the right and wrong way to use them.

So I ask her not to say “poop” unless it’s referring to actual defecation and she obliges. Until it sneaks out while she’s sing-songing in the backseat and I shoot her a glance in the rearview mirror. She giggles and squeaks a “Sorry, Ma!” and proceeds to tease me with every word (real and imagined) that rhymes with that four-letter word without actually saying that word again. She’s being silly and as much as it makes me cringe, I roll with it. Mostly.

But I draw the line at name calling and hate. Those aren’t allowed in our home. Name calling is unproductive and unnecessarily hurtful. And hate is an ugly word with a meaning that kids shouldn’t be capable of understanding. So they shouldn’t use it.

So It really surprises me how many times this comes up in television shows and movies targeting preschoolers. Dummy, stupid and other crude names are tossed around frequently. Em called me in this afternoon, confused because the fairies in her Tinkerbell movie said they hated another fairy. I’m sure we were exposed to this as kids, too, and it wasn’t an issue. So maybe I’m being oversensitive. But is it really necessary?

This kid is a sponge. I suppose I just want to make sure what she’s absorbing is clean.

How do you handle “bad” words? Are you strict with your kids words or should “kids be kids”?


4 thoughts on “Words with Kids.

  1. The other day at Target, out of nowhere McKenzie said, “Mothafuckaaaa!” I was like, “Excuse me?” And then she cried. I have no idea where that came from (honestly!), because I have a very clean mouth around her. Anyway, we know she’ll hear the 4-letter-words (Jon has a military mouth), so we’ve just tried to teach her that those are “adult words,” and she can use them when she’s an adult too, and knows “when & where it’s appropriate.” I don’t know…from my perspective, I think she’ll inevitably hear them so it’s good for her to simply know their not acceptable. And I totally agree with “hate”…I can’t stand how it’s thrown around. Have you seen some of the older Disney movies? I’m kinda shocked at how violent they are & some of the things they say! We also have the “Dirty S’s” in our house: stupid, shut up, and sucks. Those are also big no-no’s.

    • AH! I would have DIED. The worst (so far) was when Blair was about 18 months old and sitting in a church service with us. During a particularly moving moment, the pastor paused for effect and Blair yelled, “POOPY!” from our seats in the balcony. She was starting to potty train and loved telling us when she had to go. Mortifying.

      Stupid is another HUGE one for me. She has tested it a few times but usually in combination with name calling. Thanks, preschool!

      I agree with setting boundaries and offering explanations. They can’t be sheltered forever. I try not to just black list words and actions because that just gives them more power (at least it did for me when I was a kid).

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