Name calling may seem like a trivial offense. After all, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”—right?
WRONG. Yes, our society believes in freedom of speech, but that can be a slippery slope. Studies give evidence that name-calling can lead to anger, violence, withdrawal, and fear. Words do matter. Words are weapons that can hurt others deeply.
Here is how to teach your kids to stop the name-calling.
It starts with you, Mom and Dad.
Do you call other people names? Do you speak badly about your boss, your child’s teacher or coach, a difficult family member or anyone else? If you call others demeaning names, you’re telling your child that it’s acceptable behavior. You must show them how to refrain from talking bad about others even when you feel angry. Model an apology when you mess up.
Set the Boundary.
Be specific about setting a boundary for your child’s treatment of others. “Name-calling” may be a vague term, so you must define what disrespectful behavior looks like. Give some examples from their experience: calling their sibling stupid, the coach is a jerk, etc. Talk about how to handle the situation in a way that allows them to be assertive, without resorting to name-calling.
Respond Every Time.
Point out put-downs the instant you hear them. Tell them “That’s a put-down.” If you’ve already talked with your child about name-calling and set the boundaries, this will not be a surprise to your kids. They may simply need a reminder, not a sermon or a rant.
Garbage In, Garbage Out.
Be picky about the TV shows, movies, music and books your kids consume. If they are constantly watching shows where name-calling is a way of life and seen as funny, they will most likely start mimicking those behaviors.
Teach Your Kids How to Fight.
In order to show your kids how to fight, you must begin with accepting that conflict is a normal part of a healthy relationship. Conflict is not something to be avoided or feared. When handled correctly, it actually provides an opportunity for relationships to deepen.Do your kids know healthy conflict resolution skills? Teach them how to resolve conflict in a healthy and productive way.
In the same conversation where boundaries are discussed, let your kids know that there will be consequences. It may be as simple as name-calling “fine jar” where family members must donate a dollar whenever they call someone a name. Or it may be a time-out or a writing assignment. No matter what the consequence it, it will only be effective if you enforce it every time.
Name-calling is easy to ignore because as long as your kids are not hitting each other, you may want to just look the other way. But name-calling is not healthy for the perpetrator, who is resorting to ineffective conflict skills, and for the victim, whose self-esteem can be damaged. Stop it in your house before it causes more damage.
Is there a lot of conflict in your home? Would you like some help in handling it? Let’s talk about ways to cut down on conflict. Schedule a free intro call here.