How to speak to your child about sexual insults and respect.
No one could have ever begun to explain what parenting was like before I became a parent on my own. I remember hearing my mom say to me time and time again, “One day you will be a parent, and then you will know.” The truth is, is that that is the only way to explain it, because it is impossible to be prepared for each and every step of it. As my kids get older, I am constantly being shown how much there is to learn, even before I am ready to face what’s right in front of me. With 4 children between the ages of 7 and 12, I am constantly explaining, teaching, and learning to and from my kids. Most recently, I have been dealing with sexual insults, something I wish my children never had to hear. I am learning earlier than I expected how to speak to children about respect and respecting others.
Just last night, we were at a celebration for my niece who just turned 13. Along with all of her friends, both girls and boys, my children and their younger cousins were there to celebrate with her. It was an outdoor party filled with jumping castles and mini golf and many more games to keep the kids entertained for hours on end. We arrived at the party early for family pictures where the kids got to run free before all of the pre-teen and teenagers arrived. Everyone was having a blast. As my nieces friends began to arrive at the party and join in in the fun, it wasn’t long before my 7-year old ran up to me with a look of complete shock on her face. She had heard a sexual insult and was very upset by it.
“Mommy, mommy!” she said. She motioned to me to come down to her level so that she could whisper something in my ear. I leaned down and she said “the big boys in the jumping castle just said ‘You’re a dick'”.
Sexual insults are inappropriate for children of any age, especially a 7-year old and her even younger cousins. A sexual insult is using a term that relates to sex, whether it be a body part or sexual orientation, in a negative way. When saying something like “You’re gay” as an insult, the person is degrading those who are gay. The same goes for calling someone a “pussy”. The idea is that by calling someone that, they are degrading women. Sexual insults are degrading and inappropriate.
Tips for Teaching Your Child to Speak with Respect
1. Lead by example: Just like anything else, children get their cues from their parents. Children are always watching and always learning from their parents. Make sure that you speak with respect to others and that you don’t use sexual insults.
2. When your child is feeling upset, help your child use language that is appropriate and respectful, while allowing them to express how they feel. If they use words that are no welcome, explain to them why those words are not acceptable and help them to come up with something that is.
3. Do not overreact: If your child uses a term that you are not comfortable with, do not over react and scream. Show them respect by calming explaining why what they said was wrong. Respond to them with the respect you want them to show others.
4. We all make mistakes: Should you make a mistake, show your child the same respect by apologizing for your wrong doing. No child is perfect and this is a good way to model respect for me.
5. Go over the terminology: Explain to your children what words mean. Explain that there are different words for different body parts and when the time feels right, explain sexuality to them. You are better to teach your children directly instead of waiting for them to learn inaccurately on the playground. It can feel scary to talk to your children about certain things, but it is important.
Learning how to speak to your child about respect and teaching them about respecting others is essential. As parents, it is our job to educate on appropriate language and to model how to respect others. This is a great place to begin.