Rage or relax? Veronica Ester Mendoza, Ed.D., psychologist and Doctor of Education candidate at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, advises, “Don’t put so much energy into getting angry. Calm down, and ask your child where he heard such words.” Children mimic words and nuances from other people, without really understanding what they mean.
Rachel Ricafrente-Abella, a preschool teacher who holds a Master’s degree in Family Life and Child Development from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, says that the parent should waste no time and talk to the child right away.
According to Mendoza and Ricafrente-Abella, these statements are your best approaches:
“What you said is unacceptable. Words like that might offend or hurt other people.”
“That word is not good to hear. Next time, try to think of other words to say what you’re feeling or thinking.”
“Do you know the meaning of the words you just said? If not, maybe you shouldn’t say a word you don’t exactly know the meaning of.”As a last resort, Mendoza suggests, “You can also say that using that word might get him into trouble.” But in the age of exploration, a preschooler can test his boundaries.
Digging the roots
“We have to know the source of the problem—or where he heard that word. The root, most of the time, is that the child just heard the word from a television show, or from his parents, relatives, or caregivers.
If the “culprit” is you…
Mendoza advises, “You have to apologize. It will not diminish your authority as a parent. Explain that ‘I also make mistakes and I don’t want you to do the same, that’s why I am teaching you this.’”
If you hear another child curse…
“Your tot will seek out that person and might copy his every word and action,” says Mendoza. Initiate a heart-to-heart talk with your fellow parent. Tell him how you feel about the situation. Afterwards, listen to what he has to say.
“Point out that you are worried about the effect on your child,” she adds. Keep your tone calm and non-threatening. “If he feels you are attacking his child or his credibility as a parent, the tendency is to be defensive—and he will close the doors to any suggestion or dialogue with you,” she adds.
If grownups are the cause…
Make sure the yaya you hire or the relative who’s helping you understands why you feel strongly about putting those guidelines into practice. If you are convinced he is not making any effort to carry out your rules, then maybe it’s time to get another person to look after your child.
Ricafrente-Abella stresses, “If you have instilled the right values, and these values are grounded, kahit lumabas siya o kahit malaki na siya, he would not be easily influenced to take on other people’s bad habits.”
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Veronica Ester Mendoza, Ed.D., psychologist and special education specialist; Doctor of Education candidate at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, currently CBR Advisor for Tibet, Handicap International Belgium
Rachel Ricafrente-Abella, preschool teacher, M.A., Family Life and Child Development, University of the Philippines, Diliman
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