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Parenting: "Ask Questions Before You React”

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I was in the car one morning driving to school with my three boys. I was still waiting for my coffee to kick in while I could hear them chattering in the back. At one point, I hear my five-year-old exclaim to his brothers, “Look at that 'dam' car!”

I nearly spit out my sip of coffee when I heard his words. The reaction inside my head was, “WHAT? Where did you hear that? We do not say that word!” Thankfully, I was more composed on the outside. Inquiringly, I asked him calmly, “Why would you say that? What do you mean?”

His answer was, “Look at that white car up ahead. It is parked right in the driveway and it blocks the road. No one can get in or out. It’s like a dam.”

Ah-ha. Then I remembered the show that they were watching a few days ago with their father. It was on Animal Planet and it was all about beavers and the dams that they build. I decided that it was pretty observant of him to notice. I was also thankful that I did not start yelling about his language. My husband later asked me if I had told him that “dam” can also be considered a bad word. Of course I hadn’t. As the parent that has the most contact with daily interaction and situations that occur, I didn’t think that fast. Also, I know from experience that sometimes a negative reaction can cause a child to truly remember a word that they shouldn’t say.

The rhyming game can be a great learning tool but also a parent’s worst enemy. If they start in on that game, steer them far away from “luck.” I have found that unless it happens a few times, it is best to let it go and not draw attention to it.

It is hard to ever prepare for the things that children will say whether it is inappropriate words or uncomfortable questions. (My boys have not yet asked where babies come from but they have asked how they get out.) Even at a child’s young age, a parent’s reaction could prepare them for expectations of future situations. Good luck!

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