Harnessing Inappropriate Words from Your Child’s Mouth
Joey and Carla Link
July 31, 2019
It’s amazing what words and language has become normalized in today’s common conversations. Words that were only heard in locker rooms and on sports fields are heard every day by kids no matter where they are. A friend and I were talking about thisrecently and he told me he hears preschool kids using “F-bombs”. Carla and I were at a community event where the music blaring out from the loud speakers was foul. It was promoted as a family event!
Jesus own brother, James said it clearly,
“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” (James 3:10)
- If you want your kids to live for Jesus, what words should be coming out of their mouths?
- What words are they hearing from their friends? From you?
- Are they able to distingue between right and wrong language?
- When they hear a foul word, do they know what it means? Do they know it is foul?
While a preschooler has no concept of what “F-bomb” means and shouldn’t, it does show what kind of language they hear on a regular basis and they quickly learn the context it is used in.
What is right and wrong language for your kids?
I (Joey) remember walking to the park with my then 6 year old son and he used a term he picked up at public school. In conversation I simply said, “That is a word our family doesn’t use, so please don’t say it anymore.” He said he didn’t know what the word meant; only that he had heard it used a lot in the boy’s bathroom and he was fine not using it.
Paul gives parents clear definition in Ephesians 4:29 of what is right and wrong language.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
In Ephesians 5:4 Paul goes on to say, “There must be no filthiness and silly talk or crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”
Mom and Dad, what words, language and kind of talk are you allowing your kids to use:
- in your home
- with their friends
- in text, emails
- social media
I had a parent check their teens phone recently because they were having issues with the kid’s attitude. They were horrified at the words and language their teen’s fingers were texting to a friend.
It’s like Solomon said in Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” You will know what your kids are thinking about when you pay attention to what is coming out of their heart through their mouths.
How Can Parents Harness Their Child’s Inappropriate Words?
- With young kids (7yrs. and younger) stop them from saying it with your authority. Be calm and steady – just explain you don’t use that word in your family like you don’t allow them to say “shut up”.
- Know what your kid’s friends talk about and what kinds of words they use. You can say, “We don’t use that word in our family so please don’t use it around our kids.”
- Help your kids choose appropriate friends and invite their families to spend time with your family. Don’t assume because they go to church they are appropriate.
- If your child asks what is wrong with a word you have told him not to use tell him, unless it is inappropriate for his age. When our kids asked us these type of questions over the years we usually asked them:
- Why exactly do you want to know?
- You already know the word is wrong to use so what else do you need to know?
- Parents need to model what words to use and what words not to use by not saying them. If it isn’t okay for your child to use them, it isn’t okay for you to use them.
- In the same way, parents need to give kids different words to use to replace what their peers use. Encourage them to be creative like “Oh Jelly snaps!”
Ultimately for a child who doesn’t use words he/she hear from friends and peers, they need to have a belief that the word is right or wrong in the context it is being used in. Therefore, if a child wants to persist in using words you believe are wrong for your family’s identity, then you need to be prepared to teach them why you believe certain words or phrases are wrong, give them grace in removing it from their vocabulary as it likely has become a habit, and then help them replace it with other words that can make the same point.
Our oldest daughter was on the bus going to a band competition when she was 13 years old. After listening to them talk for a while she stood up, put her hands on her hips and said, “Do you know what that word means? Any of you? Well it means ‘poop’. Why you think it is cool to say ‘poop’ all the time when talking to each other is beyond me. I think it is disgusting and you should too!”
We encourage you to help your kids encourage and nourish their friends with what comes out of their mouths.
“The lips of the righteous nourish many,
but fools die for lack of sense.”