In America, we have the expression “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” The definition of the idiom is that people cannot be hurt by unpleasant things that are said to them. Is that true? A physical attack may injure a person but a verbal attack cannot? I don’t believe that at all.
Language skills are an important part of your child’s development. As babies, they listen to the way we speak and the tones of our voices. Our children’s language exploration grows at a rapid pace. They are not only learning words and sentence structure, they are learning the power of language on those around them.
Children begin using words that alarm adults after they’ve heard others use those words, or after those words have been aimed at them. Possibly they hear certain words in the media which they want to “try out” for effect.
Is there such a thing as a “bad” word? Is it the way we use words that make them a bad choice?
Grownups use foul language when they’re upset, and the behavior trickles down toward children, usually with the original emotional heat welded to the words. Children observe their parents use the words and then, in turn, use those words with other children, just about every child on the planet is exposed to name-calling, or bad words behavior, sooner or later.
The use of abusive words or profanity is becoming increasingly common among the younger generation today.
In my house certain words are deemed “bad” words. My children are not familiar with curse words, as my husband and I do not use foul language around our children. My girls have heard more common “bad” words such as, “hate” and “stupid”. We do not permit our children to use those words, my husband and I are also mindful in not using those words.
My oldest daughter used the word “stupid” one time when she was five-years-old. My neighbor told me she overheard her say the word. When my daughter came home, we sat down and talked about the power of words and how they have a direct impact on other people. I explained to her that she can choose better words to express herself that are less offensive and hurtful to others.
I felt really good about our conversation and proud that she’s never used the word since. However, a few weeks ago during our Spanish tutoring lesson, my two-year-old called my six-year-old a “stupid girl”. I was shocked and mortified. Where was this coming from?
Where indeed… you see we allow our children to watch “G” rated movies on the weekends, only on the weekends. Our children are not permitted to watch television shows. I love the Toy Story movies and so do my girls. They also love the Tinkerbell movies.
I cringe when I hear the characters in those movies use the words “stupid”, “idiot”, “shut up” and “moron”. These degrading words are targeted at other characters in the movies.
How do we fix this epidemic of children using bad language? Demand more from your children. Talk with them about what language is appropriate and then hold them accountable for the words they choose. Word up!
Do you believe there is such a thing as a “bad” word? Are there words that your children are not permitted to use?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Courtney Cappallo of Massachusetts, USA. Courtney can be found homeschooling on her blog, Table of Four.
The photograph used in this post is attributed to the author.
I think you make some great points here: setting the example; the language used in children’s movies etc. The problem we’ve always had is that our children are exposed to many adults who use swearing like punctuation. It is awful to hear anyone use hurtful words and I think words can be very harmful.
Karyn, thanks for reading the article. I wish that Hollywood would actually take a stance and not put poor language in their movies. How about instead of calling someone “stupid”, the character could say “I don’t like that.” Is it really going to make the movie less enjoyable? I feel “G” rated movies should not include such derogatory language. You are right, the problem is children do get exposed to others that use poor language, which frustrates me to no end that parents just give up on disciplining their children. I know several children that use “stupid”, “hate” and “shut up” as part of their common lexicon. Their parents just stand idly by doing NOTHING! Ugh!
I completely agree with you Courtney! My son received Toy Story (both 1 and 2) as gifts and the first time we popped it into the DVD player I was shocked that a G rated film would have words like ‘stupid’ and ‘moron’, as well as some of the “fighting” that the movie portrays. I was also shocked when we watched Ratatouille and within the first few minutes there was an old lady shooting at all of the rats. Even though my son is almost 5, when he goes around re-enacting some of those scenes by ‘punching’ the air, or towards other kids who he is playing with (never actually intending to hit anyone, but just acting out what he saw on the movie) and uses those words, I try to explain to him that this is not a good way to behave, but all of the other kids are doing it as well. I know that “boys will be boys”, but I just don’t like and accepts that this is how a boy should behave (that is something that you don’t have to worry about with having 2 girls). I have also noticed that if he plays with his older cousins (they are in the 5-8 year old range) he comes back using words like ‘hate’ and ‘stupid’ (which he has admitted to not even knowing what they mean), which they have all picked up from school or from TV/DVDs. I guess I am the naive one thinking that a G rated movie will have the same values that I do.
Maman Aya, thanks for reading the article. I know what you mean about Toy Story 1 and Toy Story 2. Toy Story 1 even has Etch a Sketch draw a noose meant to imply to hang Woody when he pushes Buzz Lightyear out of the window. My older daughter didn’t watch that movie until she was five. I put it in once when she was three and saw the noose and said, forget it! Tinkerbell also uses the word “stupid” a lot and that is where my younger daughter picked up on the word. We put on the Lion King for them for the first time, last weekend and wouldn’t you know my younger daughter quotes Scar and says to one of her toys, “I am going to kill you.” Seriously?! I talked to her about never saying that and you bet they won’t be watching that movie anymore! It is the bane of my existence. “G” rated movies should not have such poor language, but almost all of them do. “Fairy Rescue” (I believe) does not have bad language. It is actually one movie I don’t mind putting on for my girls.
It’s a hard subject to talk about with parents. Many parents have different standards about what words their children use. I have a good friend that told me her son was being teased by two boys in our neighborhood for something on his body. She said she told her son to retaliate by calling their bodies stupid. I was shocked. I wanted to have a discussion with her about it but so many parents are so sensitive I just didn’t say anything. I wish in a way I had because our children hang out with her children and I am concerned that in the future those words could be turned on my girls.
I love the picture!! We haven’t come across this problem yet, so I’m glad you wrote about it so I know what I’m in for and how to respond!!
Thanks Jen, I love this picture too! I wish you the best of luck with it with your girls, it’s a daily challenge when my girls hang out with other children that use bad language.
Its so true that so many cartoons and children’s movies these days portray kids talking to each other in a hurtful, rude way. In my mothers house we were NEVER allowed to say Shut up or Stupid and it seems like every cartoon on tv has someone saying “Idiot” “Butt head” “moron” and more. I don’t want my kids acting like that! I wrote in a post on my blog about when my son learned the F word. The way I dealt with that is to tell him he now knows the word, it is not the last swear word he will learn in his life and I cant keep him from knowing them. I told him that he has a hand and he can use that hand to hit and hurt someone but he doesn’t because he knows it’s wrong. And that words are the same way, just because he knows it it doesn’t mean he should use it. I also told him its a word only stupid people use because they don’t know enough words to say what they mean lol.
Mama B., I like how you compared using your hands and using your words. I will definitely use the same explanation. Thanks for sharing because I think this will give me more pause when handling my children using their first curse word.
I agree with you. A while ago I caught myself using phrases that I would never want to really come true and realized the power of my words.
Absolutely, there are words my children are not allowed to use & I don’t like how the G movies say idiot, shut-up, etc. I have told my kids that we don’t those words because we choose not to, since they are fresh, but we can’t control what other people say.