If you’re like me, you feel decidedly uncomfortable when kids of any age turn the air blue with profanities. Swearing shows lack of respect for others, and also a lack of awareness for their surroundings.
Teaching kids to use appropriate language is trickier now than in the past. For a start, standards have changed where many words, such as the F word, that were deemed inappropriate in the past are often heard on radio and seen in mainstream newspapers. And words that everyone agrees are inappropriate are frequently used in public forums, to the point that the boundaries of appropriateness have become blurred.
Standards may change, but the job of parents hasn’t altered. That is, to teach kids to use language that doesn’t offend others. Whether it’s teasing or swearing – it’s all the same. If it’s offensive, then choose other words, or say nothing at all is the message to get across to the next generation.
Socially-smart kids alter their language
Socially-skilled kids of all ages will adjust their language to suit the situation they are in. They may speak one way with their friends, but use a completely different vocabulary when they are with adults. They are aware that what works with their best friend just won’t cut it when you are in grandma’s company. This awareness shows social acuity, and a flexibility to adjust to different environments. It needs to be extended to all sorts of situations including where adults and younger children are present. Kids who constantly swear limit their social possibilities.
They didn’t hear that from me!
What do you do when you know your children swear despite your best intentions? Don’t over react. Try to work out its purpose. Children swear for many reasons, including to experiment with language; to attract your attention; to make themselves appear bigger or older than they are; and even as a challenge or expression of personal power.
Inappropriate language can also simply be a reflection of your children’s peer groups. “Everyone else swears so there’s nothing wrong with it” is a common attitude of many children and young people.
Teach them that language may be appropriate in one context or be accepted by one group but it is not acceptable in every situation. While not condoning swearing, get across to children that they need to learn to control their use of language and adjust it to suit the situation they are in.
When swearing becomes a habit
If swearing has become a habit for kids, make up alternative words to replace the swear words. One family I know had replaced certain words with fruit. They had a fruit for every situation!
Alternatively, use a penalty or fine system to make kids aware of their poor language. When you hear a family member swear fine them an agree amount. At the end of the week or month give the money to a worthy cause. Of course, this strategy is easier to implement when parents join in as well.
Take a long, hard look at er…..yourself!
It’s also helpful to examine your own choice of language to judge if it is an acceptable model for your children. Yep, sometimes kids will pick up their parents’ language and repeat it at the worst possible time such as when relatives are over.
The job of adults is to develop a sense of social awareness in the next generation so they can easily navigate a variety of different groups and social situations. Teaching appropriate language use is at the very heart of teaching kids to be socially-skilled. That’s something we all should swear by!
Things to remember when kids swear:
1. Avoid over-reacting when your kids swear. Look for the reason.
2. Discuss with older children the concept of matching their language with the audience.
3. Nip it in the bud before it becomes habit-forming.
4. Use a penalty or fine system when kids swear in front of you.
5. Model the language you want kids to use.
Standards may change, but the job of parents hasn’t altered. That is, to teach kids to use language that doesn’t offend others. If it’s offensive then encourage them to choose other words, or say nothing at all. That’s the approach that socially smart kids follow.
Michael Grose, founder of Parenting Ideas, is one of Australia’s leading parenting educators. He’s the author of 10 books for parents including Thriving! and the best-selling Why First Borns Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change It, and his latest release Spoonfed Generation: How to raise independent children.
Click here An article for parents and HSC students alike
People who do well – in their careers, in sports, in exams – aim for peak performance.
They want to be at their best, doing their best. How can you (as a Year 12 student) reach peak performance so that, when you sit your exams, you can be confident you are able to give your best and gain the results you are aiming for?
The best performers tap into positive energy at all levels of the performance pyramid. This pyramid has four levels, and they are all important.
First, even for studying, you must be able to find the energy you need when you need it. That means sticking to a routine of hard work and short breaks to refresh your mind and body. This might be 45 minutes of concentrated study followed by a 10-minute walk or a few minutes doing something you enjoy, before getting back to your work. People who do not establish a routine waste time and energy. Regardless of their talent, they become more vulnerable to frustration, anxiety, and loss of concentration and far more likely to choke under pressure. So, a good examination routine means concentrated study combined with regular exercise, good food, and enough sleep.
The second level is positive emotions. When you feel optimistic and confident, these emotions ignite the energy that drives high performance. Negative emotions like frustration and fear drain your energy and can wreck your performance. Positive emotions reduce your stress but negative emotions increase stress. If you are feeling negative emotions, and we all do at times like examinations, try to act as if you are feeling confident and optimistic because getting rid of negative feelings will help you succeed.
The third level is focus. Keep your mind on your goals and what you need to do to achieve them. Resist being distracted. You will have all summer for everything else you enjoy. For this short but important time in your life, keeping your focus is vital.
The fourth level, which will help with everything else, is to tap into your deepest values and develop a strong sense of purpose. In the face of challenges like examinations, knowing what you stand for and what you value in life is a powerful source of motivation, focus, determination, and resilience.
We need to remind ourselves what is truly important to us so we can find the energy, the focus and the positive attitude that will bring success not only in exams but also in life.
So, there you have it: energy, positive emotions, focus and knowing what you truly want is the foundation for examination success.
Acknowledgment: “The Making of a Corporate Athlete” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz in Harvard Business Review, January 2001
Parenting best practice, synthesised from research and clinical experience; helps parents reshape kids’ challenging behaviour, create strong family bonds, and guide children toward becoming happy, kind, and responsible adults.
Effective strategies include “Great parents do what they say they are going to do”, “Great parents see that actions speak louder than words”, and “Great parents are transparent about their decision-making process”.
One easy-to-implement tip is replacing the word ‘but’ - which can have negative connotations - with ‘and’, which sounds more agreeable. For instance, instead of saying “That was a good job but you missed out an important part”, you could say “You did a great job and you could consider this part too”.
Another technique is to pivot. This means to use words that get your point across in a more positive way. Pivoting is the art of saying yes instead of no, and meaning the same thing. For instance, “No, we can’t go to the park until after you have a nap” may get a better response if pivoted to “Yes, we can go to the park as soon as you’ve finished your nap”.
It’s best to avoid labels. If your son is reluctant to join an activity, resist commenting to other adults that “He’s just shy”. Acting shyly is a behaviour and not always a permanent characteristic. Your child is listening and could come to think of himself in the manner you’re describing.
Even a positive label should be avoided. By labelling your child clever, they may internalise this as “I am smart/creative/good at sports and I want to stay that way”, which might lead to a reluctance to try new things for fear of failure and no longer being defined by that label.
Great parents focus near and far. Focusing only on the moment and not the long term can create problems. If your daughter typically whines for something at the store and you usually buy it for her, she’ll learn that whining helps her get her way. A short-term solution has created a long-term issue. This is also true of yelling to get your point across. If we habitually yell to get our kids’ attention, we are teaching them to ignore us until we yell and we are also teaching them that yelling is the way to get someone’s attention.
Three questions to ask: “Is what I’m doing something I would be happy to see my kids emulate? Is what I’m doing creating a positive family dynamic? Is what I’m doing solving one problem but creating another?”
For parents with older kids, there is one last tip, titled “Great parents start where they are”. Rather than fretting over past actions, keep in mind that you can only act on what you know, and most parents have been doing the best they can with what they know so far. Thankfully, most kids are both resilient and forgiving; they are more like hardy weeds than delicate flowers.
Reference: Reischer, Erica. (2016). What Great Parents Do: 75 Simple Strategies for Raising Kids Who Thrive. Penguin Books.
My colleague Michele Chevalley Hedge (http://ahealthyview.com/) writes extensively about family health, wellbeing and nutrition. Michele is also an outstanding speaker, speaking widely to many audiences across Australia and internationally. I think she has much to offer in this vital space and I encourage our parents to visit her website and engage with the resources and opportunities.
More recently she wrote about the value of regular exercise, intelligence and mental acuity, with brain benefits for young kids, adults and all the way up to grandparents. Please find her article below.
If you want to help boost your child’s IQ, get better grades, and work more efficiently – the answer is to fit in some regular exercise!
The following research is important for your children and you to note1
· Primary-school students who exercise approximately 40 minutes per day have increased their IQ score by an average of 4 points.
· Year six students who are fit score around 30% higher than average students, and less fit students around 20% below the average.
There are over 100 studies in the Journal of Applied Physiology, that reveal that both aerobic and resistance training help maintain cognitive function as we age. Anyone with Alzheimer’s in the family should take heed!
The question is – how to get our kids hooked on exercise?
The way our kids are hooked on Facebook, videos, computer games and the lot is becoming scary! Getting them hooked on exercise is a gift that will last forever. Allow your children to choose a sport that appeals to them so they are inclined to do it naturally. The tip is to get them interested early and keep it fun. Gym, dance, netball, rugby, cricket, swimming, it doesn’t matter – as long as your child is moving and not inside a stuffy room with no air and light.
Ideally you and your children should be engaged in some type of activity every day for approximately 30-60 minutes. Try and include incidental activity in your day such as walking to and from school, or walking to and from the bus stop. If you cannot fit some form of exercise into your life, you need to reassess how much you value your brain and your body. Being a good role model delivers a quiet, naturally positive flow-on effect to your children.
One last thing to remember…
You cannot exercise your way out of a bad diet. Too many adults and children will consume sugar laden smoothies, yogurt parfaits, sugar loaded sport drinks or soft drinks after sport. This is sabotaging the exercise benefits of a healthy mind and body.
Reference: Michele Chevalley Hedge (http://ahealthyview.com/)
Young people are often criticized for having poor manners; not having the same manners as the builders (1925-1945) or the boomers (1946-1964). It is a criticism levelled particularly at generations after Gen Y – born after 1980. I have always believed that it is parents and grandparents responsibility to teach children manners, insisting on good manners, and modeling good manners. It is the school’s responsibility to support and reinforce the teaching of manners through appropriate school values and standards. Whoever accepts responsibility for instilling good manners in children and young people; it has to be taught and modelled.
The blame for the demise of good manners is often (conveniently) placed firmly and squarely, front and centre on electronic devices. Because of students’ constant heads-down focus on their electronic devices, it’s often hard for them to learn to interact appropriately with other people. They are more comfortable texting or sending an e-mail to communicate than offering a firm handshake or a warm smile. To prepare students for interviews and the modern workplace, not to mention their personal relationships, they need to be taught the skills of interacting with others. We all play a vital role.
An acronym for this is S.P.E.C.I.A.L. (Adam Dovico in Phi Delta Kappan, November 2016)
These elements make a young person/adult come across as confident and professional. They need practice, so they become natural. It’s good to start at an early age teaching children to introduce themselves, start a conversation, look people in the eye and answer politely. By senior school, students should be able to start a good conversation with a stranger and mingle in a crowd.
How can adults help, parents, and teachers? These strategies can be applied at home and other social situations outside of the home.
Reference - www.principalsdigests.co.nz. Newsletter, Volume 23, Number 4