That’s right, you won’t ever hear me call my children ‘naughty’. I’m sure I can sense a few eye rolls and ‘here she goes again, what else aren’t we allowed to do’ comments from people. Well, you will also know I am going to continue on and explain why regardless. Ha!
Firstly, my children aren’t naughty. They are little people learning to navigate the world and regulate their emotions and behaviours. Sometimes they make mistakes, and that is ok. Even adults still make mistakes. I see absolutely no need for name calling. And that’s really what it is, isn’t it? I would also not call my children bad, stupid, dumb, etc. I always try to put myself in their shoes. How would I feel if someone called me bad or naughty? Probably angry, embarrassed, ashamed, and upset. Those are not the tools I want to use to guide my children. How would my child feel to have her parents, the people who know her best, the people guiding her through life, call her bad or naughty? Well, she might just start to believe it’s true. She might just decide that as I already think of her that way she may as well live up to my expectations.
Calling a child naughty is also not effective in dealing with the situation. It is not communicating what they have done wrong, what your expectations for behaviour are, or what you want them to do now. They might not even understand what the word really means, leading them to keep on doing what they’re doing, and you getting even more frustrated. I really can’t find a positive or useful way to use the word naughty. So what do I try to do instead?
- I let them know clearly what my expectations are.
- I explain my reasoning, in a way they can understand.
- I empathize with them when we are having trouble agreeing on a solution.
- I give them time to process what I’ve said.
- I follow through with what I say I am going to do.
- I go over to them and make sure they are listening to me when I speak to them.
- Whenever possible I don’t interrupt them when they are clearly in the middle of something.
- I narrate for them when they are working out an argument instead of jumping in and solving it for them, e.g. It looks like your sister is sad that you snatched the toy off her.
- I make sure they are not hungry! There have been many times there has been a meltdown and we have later realised it was mostly because they were hungry!
Notice I said this is what I try to do. I am not perfect. A lot of the time it doesn’t go to plan! I get frustrated, they get frustrated, and everyone ends up grumpy. But when I remain calm and think before I act, it really can work out quite smoothly. No need for name calling or shaming.
‘Your words have power. Use them wisely.’ – Unknown