Name-calling seems to be a juvenile behavior that unfortunately can continue until adulthood.
Research shows that name-calling negatively affects our perception of the victim of name-calling. Doesn’t that appear to be valid?
Once we hear something negative about a person, true or untrue, we tend to remember that assertion, even though we may know the story is not verifiable. Regrettably, a smear campaign works.
Name-calling induces emotional harm as much as hitting does physical harm.
When we tell our children not to hit, bite, etc. when they are upset, often we will see name-calling emerge as an alternative way to express strong emotions. Emotions beg to be expressed and will come out one way or the other, either outwardly as physical or verbal assaults, or inwardly as stomach or headaches.
Helping our children learn appropriate ways to communicate their feelings, as well as to problem solve, promotes emotional and social well-being.
Teaching emotional vocabulary.
As parents it can be quite painful to hear our darling two or three-year-olds scream “I hate you,” or “You’re a poophead,” among various other phrases.
What are our children really trying to say?
That they are mad or frustrated about life not going their way. A name-calling child sees you as the person that is the biggest obstacle and help to getting life back on track.
Our young children are not aware that this language is disrespectful. All they know is that it pushes buttons. Name-calling is about trying to get someone to do things our way.
When name-calling occurs we need to change our children’s words into “love language” using love/think statements. “I love you. I think you are angry right now. Can you tell me what the problem is, or do you need some time to calm down?”
Stating the problem.
If the child can’t tell you the problem, try to put the problem into words. “You are upset because I said it was time to take a bath. You’d like to keep playing with your toys. Is that right?”
After you have gotten acknowledgment from the child that you have understood the situation, name the feeling.
“Yes, I can see that you are angry. We all get angry at times. And we can say I’m angry when we feel angry. Can you say it with me? I feel angry. We can say how we feel without calling someone a name.”
Many times just naming the emotion helps us, child and parent, be able to calm down and to redirect ourselves to…bath time.
Words can hurt. With no disrespect intended. Help your children learn how to name their feelings and state their problems effectively. That’s what their name-calling is asking you to do.
Perhaps, too, with your guidance, name-calling will be only a childhood phase.
Wouldn’t that make a better world?