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10 Bad Assumptions for Training Children : Bad Assumption Number 9

Posted by Remy on April 25, 2009

There are several assumptions parents make that are detrimental to their children. As a parent who teaches I am afforded the opportunity to spend time thinking of ways to train children. This is not to say that I’ve figured anything out, I have three rascally boys all under the age of five, so what do I know, right? But because it is my job to train children, both as parent and teacher, I know that good thoughts only follow thoughts and I have thoughts. What follows is a few thoughts that strike me as important, but are also not emphasized enough. These are not meant to detract from any other fine advice, but to compliment it.

10. Churchtime is Time to Sit Still and Quiet

9. Words Can Be Bad

There is no such thing as “bad words” only bad hearts and bad intentions. Often we teach children not to say “bad words” because it is easier than teaching them the wisdom in using words correctly. We’re more concerned with not being embarrassed in a crowd, than training our children to be wise speakers.

There’s also a tendency to want to react as parents rather than act, meaning we often wait until certain words or ideas are introduced by the neighbor kid and then do damage control. What we all hope for is that those things will miraculously be avoided so that we won’t have to deal with them, but hoping for miracles is a poor strategy in raising children. Besides, there’s nothing to fear in those things.

For our first two we used “zero” as our negative warning, because I can’t stand to see a little kid using “no” recklessly. I didn’t want them to have access to that word. “Zero” is a much more difficult thing for kids to say. For my third son we’re more confident in our abilities to train against the attitude that leads kids to yell “no” and it has been incorporated into our instruction to him. But “no” wasn’t a bad word, it was a word that they don’t have access to, in the imperative form at least.

Also, gosh, stupid, and awesome have been excised from their vocabulary. All, aside from “gosh”, I try to use regularly before them in an appropriate way. The response “whatever” continues to be a tricky lesson, when to use it, when it is rude. And “damn” has been introduced to my oldest, explained, and forbidden till he’s wiser. Wiser not older.

By framing this as a wisdom issue and not as an age issue we avoid the problem of arbitrariness, as if we have certain inalienable rights to drink alcohol or drive at certain ages. The emphasis should always be on wisdom. To treat certain words as preternaturally Bad is only to treat our personal preferences as divine law.

We should point out foolish talk, instruct on the right attitude or the right time to say such things. Words are important, but we ought not fear words, or certain words. Our goal is to train up wise speakers and at some point be confident to grant full access to the language to our children.

3 Responses to “10 Bad Assumptions for Training Children : Bad Assumption Number 9”

  1. Melissa said

    On the subject of unpronounceable prohibitions, I remember my parents saying that various activities were “unacceptable behavior.” =D Try saying that when you’re three years old.

    My mom told me years later that she and my dad used that phrase instead of telling my sister and I that we were bad girls, because they wanted to emphasize that the behavior was bad, not us.

  2. Remy said

    I like that.

  3. Jason Farley said

    We call certain words “pulpit words” that are saved for special occasions, like worship on Sunday.

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