After leaving the grocery store the other day, my kids and I stopped to eat a snack on the bench, like we always do. There was a young man eating a sandwich and I said hello as we passed by. He smiled and continued eating. When we were about three feet past him, my daughter said, “That stranger was weird.” She said it quietly so I’m not too sure if the man even heard her. However, saying rude things wasn’t a habit I wanted my daughter engaging in. Thus, when we got in the car, we had a little discussion about being tactful.
It’s Okay to Ask Questions
It’s natural for little children to be curious and observant. According to Lynne Kenney, PsyD, a pediatric psychologist and family coach in Scottsdale, Arizona, “when your child lets a remark slip, avoid shushing or shaming him, as this will make him think it’s wrong to ask questions or make observations.” Yet, as parents, we do need to explain to kids the difference between an appropriate and inappropriate comment.
Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid
Inside the car, I explained to my daughter that some things were better left unsaid. Then, I tried to put this in preschool language. For instance, if she didn’t like her friend’s t-shirt, she shouldn’t say it was “ugly.” Kids need to know that it’s good to be honest. However, they also need to know when to hold their tongue.
You Can’t Take Back Your Words
I also reminded my daughter to think before speaking. After all, you can’t take back your words. She asked me if she should say she was “sorry.” I didn’t even think the man heard her. Plus, we had already left the parking lot. I told her we may never see the man again. However, if we did, she shouldn’t say he was “weird” again.
We Come in All Different Shapes, Sizes and Colors
Kids need to know that we come in all different shapes, sizes and colors. Yet, this doesn’t mean we need to point out when someone is big or little. It’s especially important to talk about being discreet when you travel to a different country. After all, it’s likely that your child will see people that look, talk and dress differently. In addition, people may have unique customs. You may want to read a book about the country or watch a video where the distinctive language is being spoken.
In the end, I reminded my daughter that it’s fine to ask questions. However, when she sees something she doesn’t like or doesn’t understand, it’s best to ask mom or dad in private.
More from Melissa:
How to Recover from a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Parenting Day
Mommy Daymares: Have You Had One?
How to Be a Less-Stressed Parent