Sunday, April 22, 2012

Watch Your Mouth

My ears have been very sensitive to parents using an ugly, hateful tone of voice with their children lately. Is this happening more or am I just noticing it more??

Either way, it is unacceptable to belittle, yell, curse, or otherwise verbally abuse children. Of course, we know better than to beat our kids, but what about the hurtful words we use? Aren't they just as damaging?  

Recently on a family trip to Washington, D.C. a mother yelled, and I mean seriously yelled, at her 10ish year old daughter, "Aisha!! Who the F#(@ you rollin' with?!?!" Her daughter had done what so many tired, travel-weary children do and kind of attached herself to our group as we walked by. They were about to head in the same direction and she just meandered down the sidewalk near us. My ears stung as those hurtful words lingered in the air. I watched Aisha trudge back towards her family and my heart went out to her. There was no need to yell at her, and certainly dropping an F-bomb in the middle of the National Zoo was completely inappropriate.

At a recent baseball game, a father threw his hat to the ground, raised his arms and basically had a grown-up tantrum when his 8 year old made an honest mistake in not running after a ball was caught and then dropped. That was the final play of the game and as they left the field my husband and I feared that the boy was actually going to be beaten by the father right there on the field. The boy was in tears and my husband and I called out to stop the 'show' from escalating. The dad scooped the boy into his arms and laughed it all off as if nothing had happened.

Children are children. They are not little adults. I've worked with plenty of kids over the years to know that serious harm is done when voices are raised. You affect every child in the area when you use harsh words, NOT just the child you've targeted. It takes time to build relationships and inconsiderate, disrespectful words damage those relationships - sometimes irreparably. 

Have I slipped and raised my voice at children? Absolutely. It is something I think everyone must struggle with from time to time. We are human. We get frustrated, annoyed, irritated. Sometimes children do things at precisely the wrong moment when we are at our weakest. It is difficult to be on your A-game at all times. Effort must be made, however, to watch our mouths. Not just what we say, but how we say it. 

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