What parent hasn’t experienced that moment when your child blurts out something not meant to be shared?
It was that moment when your child blurts out something
When my son was learning his letters, he couldn’t say “t.” Instead, he substituted the letter “f.” One day, while enjoying lunch with his grandparents in a packed restaurant, a large semi-truck, his favorite vehicle, rolled by the window near our table. In a loud voice, he yelled, well…you can guess what he yelled. You could have heard a pin drop. <facepalm>
In 1999, Quaker Oats Co. released a series of commercials that grabbed our attention. First, they used cute kids. Second, following Art Linkletter’s example, the scripts allowed kids to say the darndest things. Third, they had a clever caption: Chewy stops the chatter. It was a great way to promote their product which subsequently grabbed a considerable share of the market.
When your children are learning to speak, you need plenty of grace from others. And a lot of chuckles and outright laughter too in that moment when your child blurts out something.
But what about when your child is older and is at the “know better” age? Have you ever experienced a scenario like this 15-second video?
I hope you laughed. Maybe you gasped. Either reaction is understandable.
As parents, we often forget that our children hear everything.
We don’t think they are listening or interested, but they are. More often than we believe. They are absorbing everything around them at an astounding rate. And that includes our adult-type conversation. Don’t believe me? Watch this 30-second video.
So how do you avoid cramming a chewy granola bar into your child’s mouth at that moment when your child blurts out something?
- Watch your language. Children are parrots. They repeat what they hear. I know you know that, but are you sure you do? To my repeated embarrassment, my children parroted my words to others until I learned to watch my language.
- Keep adult-type conversations away from the ears of children. You and your spouse need to discuss matters away from your children. These items could include disagreements about childrearing ideas, discipline practice, finances, marital struggles, trouble with a family member, or any number of other topics that aren’t appropriate for your children. If you can’t find a private place in your home, get a babysitter and go for a long walk or somewhere you can talk without fear of little ears overhearing.
- Teach your children to be respectful of others. The best way is to speak respectfully about others. Your children mimic how you speak for good or for bad. If you speak respectfully, they will learn to do the same. This includes how you talk about your spouse and their siblings or friends.
- When you mess up, admit it to your children. Then tell them why the words you spoke were wrong. Your children need to learn how to own their mistakes by observing you do the same.
- Control your reaction when they need a chewy bar. As hard as you try, your sweet child will say something embarrassing and inappropriate at some point. How you react to that situation is vital to your child. Use this moment to teach them what is appropriate, respectful conversation. Forget your embarrassment (it’ll be tough) and focus on your child. The other adults are just relieved it wasn’t their kid.
- Record these stories so you don’t forget. Your children will grow up one day and hopefully have their own children. At the moment when their children blurt out the chewy-bar-worthy comment, you’ll be able to laugh. Then, you can help your children navigate their embarrassment with a knowing smile.
Too often, I reacted disrespectfully when my children “needed a chewy bar.” I didn’t use the opportunity to help them grow because I was overly concerned about saving my face. Now I wish I could get a do-over.
Life is messy. Kids words are too.
Their misstep is also funnier than we think. So the next time your innocent child blurts out a chewy-bar-worthy comment, take a deep breath, smile, and deal with it appropriately. Remember, every parent in the vicinity can relate.
What is the most outlandish comment your child has ever made in public? Leave a comment below. We’ll share your embarrassment while remembering our own.
If you need help, please reach out. I promise to listen without judgment and help you take the next step.