Now I cringe when I hear some of things that come out of my son's mouth. Most of them are things that my husband or I have let slip out of our mouths. (I have taught my kids at school that actions made in anger have unintended consequences, but I haven't mastered that concept myself yet.) The strangest things my son has ever said have come from his daycare. Glad to know my $350 a month is paying off. The first thing he came home saying was, "I'm going to tell my daddy on your butt" followed by his dialing a pretend cell phone and saying, "Hello, Daddy?" (Who says that?) He finally stopped saying that but replaced it with this little gem, "You're not invited to my birthday." He has since modified this statement for the holiday season by saying, "You're not invited to my GOD's birthday."
It's as if children try to think of the most hurtful thing they can imagine to say to get back at a mate. Of course, what could be more painful to a three year old than not being invited to a friend's birthday party or being left out of Christmas. I giggle on the inside when my son says this because, little does he know, that if I'm not invited to his birthday there will be no birthday. Then I become the adult and have a one sided conversation with him helping him to understand how hurtful he was. He usually responds with a blank stare and returns back to whatever activity he was doing before I insulted his intelligence.
My question is, when do children learn that words are just as hurtful if not more than a slug in the arm? As an elementary school teacher, I hear no end of mean things pouring out of children's mouths everyday - even Kindergarteners . Some days I spend just as much time teaching the use of kind words as I do teaching math, reading and science. I can only hope that my lessons make a lasting impression.
Cartoon by "Pictures for Sad Children"