I'm an upset mom because of my child's learned behavior

Sara - posted on 03/23/2013 ( 8 moms have responded )




Since my three yr. old has started preschool he's learned a lot of name calling like "fat butt" and "you're ugly". Does anyone have any advice, please help!!


Allyson - posted on 04/01/2013





First let me say that sometimes overreacting can strengthen the fact that certain words have emotional power. Remember to try and respond calmly and your child will not experience the emotional power of swear words. You could try to ignore your child when he uses a certain word or immediately distract him with an activity. State the house rules and tell him what to do instead. Say, “We don’t use that word in our family, we say _____”. No importance is placed on the word and no punishment is given. Remember to remain unemotional when he uses a swear word. Chances are that the use of the word will stop.

If ignoring the behavior doesn't work then try some of these effective tools in my parenting belt:
Red Tag Word Game – If your child uses a word that is unacceptable, identify it as a “red tag word”. Make tags out of construction paper; green tag words are given for using acceptable alternative words (i.e. if child says silly instead of stupid). Whenever your child receives a tag they place it in a reward jar. Once the “tag jar” has a prearranged number of green tags then they earn a special treat (i.e. movie with mom/dad, trip to favorite toy store…). I like this game because we get to catch our kids making good choices.

Replacement Word – A quick fix for addressing the use of unacceptable words is to have the child replace the word immediately with a more acceptable one. I calmly say the word back to my child (this takes away some of the fascination of the word) and then ask him to replace the word (you may have to make some suggestions).

1-2-3 Magic; www.123magic.com – I like this program because it helps me to stay calm and it keeps the responsibility of my children’s choices with them. And it gives my children an opportunity to correct their behavior before the consequence is put in place. This is basically how the program works (remember to stay as calm as possible during the process):

When your child misbehaves (can be used for almost any undesirable behavior) hold up one finger and say "one" (no emotion). I usually wait and count silently, 5-10 seconds (depending on the child; my 8 year old with special needs requires a full 10 seconds to process the request). Hold up two fingers and say "two" (no emotion). Hold up three fingers and say "three" (no emotion), 3 minute time out; for a three year old, more or less time depending upon the child’s age. Punishment times are extended until the child sits while in time out; if child gets up while in timeout, silently walk him back (no emotion), with iron-willed kiddos this could initially take a long time. Most kids quickly realize that they have the power to avoid the punishment for not making good choices by modifying their behavior.

Note: Some parents have an aversion to using timeout, if this is the case then make clear beforehand what the penalty will be for not making good choices (i.e. losing something that they want or have; this works well for my older kids).

Effective parenting strategies depend on the individual child's personality. Strategies that work well for one child may not be effective for another child of the same age; get creative. We have our kids for such a short time so make every moment count; each behavioral issue is a teaching moment and another means of learning a valued life lesson.

Good luck!


Rachael - posted on 03/25/2013




I had the same issue with my son when we transitioned from a Russian daycare to an "americanized" preschool setting. I sat my son down and made him repeat after me , "I and a smart boy, I am a good boy, I a nice boy, I am a happy boy." And I told him that whenever anyone was using silly talk or saying mean things I wanted him to repeat that phrase because good, smart, happy, nice boys don't say silly hurtful things. I didn't expect much, but it totally empowered him! So much so that he is able to "correct" my MIL when she incescently uses baby talk with him and his baby sister. "I am a SMART boy, Mimi, don't use silly talk." I love it!

Amy - posted on 03/24/2013




Just remind him that you don't talk like that at home because it's not nice. Try not to focus on it too much because you don't want him saying it for attention but you want him to know that it's not ok. Unfortunately kids pick up a lot of things at school and we just have to remind them that it's not alright.


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Amanda - posted on 03/31/2013




I teach my son that name calling should only be used in a funny way. If it hurts someone's feelings then you say sorry and don't do it again. Me and him will go all out, my mom and dad did it too. By calling each other names like stinky bum, or silly willy, smarty farty, silly billy, he learned that sometimes play calling names really isn't bad. If started using hurtful words I would tell him I don't like that, it makes me sad and reacted like a kid would. He would give me a hug and say sorry and never use that name again. At his age telling him when it is ok to have fun and not ok to call someone names is better because it will only get worse as time goes on. One day he called me a chubby tubby, and it really hurt and I showed it him it hurt and that made more sense to him then me telling him it isn't ok to call someone names. Kids are kids and you will never stop it. Plus I would rather him call me stinky bum then A**hole.

Deanna - posted on 03/31/2013




Telling him those names hurt and are not really nice. And it may be time to teach appropriate and not appropriate.

Cheryl - posted on 03/26/2013




Potty language is very common for this age. I think that kids use it because they get attention. Just ignore it. This is of course assuming he is using it in a silly way. If it is more seriosus and often, tell him that it is not acceptable and that he is being silly. Walk away from him if he carries on. Children this age don't like it when they don't have the attention.

Deepti - posted on 03/24/2013




He is very small and you will find many changes in him in every few day. Make sure only polite language is used at home. the atmosphere at home has significant impact on the personality of the child. You may also tell him gently that you do not use such words. Most probably he will get over this habit within few days because of your consistent good approach.
If it still continues then contact the class teacher and recommend her to curb the use of bad words among classmates.
hope that will help you!

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