- Talk about lies and withholding information. Explain when you’re tempted to lie and why. Discuss how you make decisions to be honest instead of deceitful.
- Choose your battles carefully. Not all lies are the same. All of us tell white lies at times. Be harder on the big lies your child tells than the smaller lies, but make it clear that honesty and tact are the best choices.
- Admit when you’ve made a mistake. Adults are not perfect people. Kids admire adults when they own their mistakes and correct them.
- Avoid treating your child as a suspect. Yes, your child may have lied, but don’t act as an interrogator. Instead, calmly explain why you’re upset about the lie. Talk about how people have a hard time trusting someone who has lied and how important trust is in any relationship.
- Children learn to swear from people who use foul language, so make sure you set a good example in your home. If you don’t swear but your child starts to, pay attention to where he is learning the behavior. Try to get this person or people to stop using this kind of language around your child.
- Watch your reactions. If you laugh or give your child a lot of attention when she swears, she will most likely do it again.
- Older kids and teenagers learn that swearing is a way to blow off steam. Encourage your kids to use other words. Some kids actually enjoy being creative and inventing their own slang or just making sound effects and making distorted faces instead.
- If kids continue to swear when you’ve asked them not to, remove privileges until they’ve learned to stop.
Burps, Farts, and Other Gross Behavior
- Take a deep breath. It’s normal for kids to discover that their bodies can burp, fart, and make noises that they never imagined. Part of this comes from curiosity, but another part comes from discovering what makes people laugh—or groan.
- Create clear guidelines about how to act. Decide which behaviors are inappropriate all the time, and those that are okay just with family and friends. Maybe you think burping is okay for friends to do during playtime but decide that it’s inappropriate during meals and when you’re in public.
- Expect some gross behavior. As kids grow and learn, they sometimes accidentally do gross things, such as drip urine on the toilet seat, forget a half-eaten banana in a backpack, or smear ketchup on the table. What matters is how you respond and how you teach your child to act.
- Watch your reactions—and the reactions of others around you. It’s hard to teach a child not to fart loudly if other family members can’t stop laughing when it happens.
You Said What?
- Realize that your kids will say outlandish, inappropriate things at times. Sometimes they’re testing you to see how you’ll react. Sometimes they’re mimicking another person—or a character they’ve seen on TV.
- Be clear of what’s appropriate and what’s not. You don’t want your kids to point at people who look different from them and say derogatory remarks.
- Teach your kids how to interact with others respectfully and graciously. They need to learn not only what to say but how to talk with others. Encourage them to look people in the eye, smile, answer questions, and ask questions.
- Some kids say horrendous things to feel accepted among their peers. This often happens when a group of older kids or teenagers get together. Place boundaries on them. Encourage them to find other ways to talk in creative—and less mean—ways.