Teaching Kids Not to Hate

May 23, 2012

in Parenting

child hands over mouth
While other young kids were having Pat the Bunny read to them by their mothers, I was teaching my kids bad words. I felt it was important to learn them, but more essential, learn not to use them. The first two they learned were the “h-word” and “s-word.” But the words I am alluding to are not what most would consider bad or swear words.

Our words?

Hate and stupid.

In my opinion there is no reason to use either word in describing a person, food, or activity. My children learned better choices exist to take the place of these two words at an early age. They understood mommy would correct them each time one was uttered, simply prodding them to re-phrase the sentence with something more appropriate.

Now that my children are older, it is a harder battle with these two somewhat benign words. I now sometimes hear from Princess Daisy, “Monkey (her brother) is stupid.” Or on occasion from Monkey, “I hate my sister.”

While I am losing the battle on the use of hate to describe broccoli and their sibling, we can now discuss the word on a different level. Discussions now revolve around people’s choice to hate based upon how someone looks, the color of their skin, their religion, gender, or who they choose to love.

After shooting a same-sex marriage in D.C. a few weeks ago, I was able to have another conversation about hate. I was proud of my children’s reaction to the discussion of hate based upon love. I even let it slide when one of them said hating for that reason was stupid.

While I have made mistakes parenting and don’t claim to be perfect, I am particularly proud that banning “hate” and “stupid” at an early age has led to my kids understanding fundamentally that hate does not belong in our heart for any reason. Growing up without developing hatred for others will lead to a happier life and they will both be better citizens of the world as a result.

As for the real bad words?

Monkey fell last week, scraping his skin in seven spots. Stinging, and covered with newly-applied band-aids he let me know the fall was so bad he said a bad word: the “c-word.”

Crap.

It looks like I am still winning the battle on both fronts.

For now, at least.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Brook L. Dame May 23, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Your kids are going to be incredibly well-adjusted adults. Kudos to you!
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 23, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I hope so. Parenting is always a work in progress.

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P.J. May 23, 2012 at 3:51 pm

I’ve always believed that “hate” is one of the worst words in any language. Much worse than dropping the “F-bomb.” I’ve always tried to avoid using it when specifically speaking about another human as if you truly hate another person, then that person has obviously done a major wrong to you in your life.

I won’t say that the feeling isn’t there with me, sometimes. Not often, but it’s there. I just try to do all I can to make sure those people are no longer ever in my life, thus never having to use the word of have the feeling.

As for a food — such as the mentioned broccoli — I do tend to use the word hate because I think it’s a different context, thus a more mellow usage of the word.

Reality is if there were less hate in this world, we’d have a lot less to worry about in the grand scheme of things.
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 23, 2012 at 4:50 pm

I am not surprised that you don’t hate PJ, from all that I know about you. It’s okay if you hate broccoli though. I still like you.

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Elizabeth Flora Ross May 23, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Oh you are so winning! Great job, mama! Great job!

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Naked Girl in a Dress May 23, 2012 at 4:54 pm

So are you from what I read on your blog. :)

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Classic NYer May 23, 2012 at 5:42 pm

…and why aren’t more parents doing this?

(btw, he’s right. Hate is stupid.)
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 24, 2012 at 9:42 am

I am not sure, but I am confident we would live in a better society if this parenting philosophy was more prevalent in the home.

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Julia May 23, 2012 at 10:43 pm

YES! We do that too! My son is two, and hate and stupid are both words he knows AND knows not to say. He is so much on the alert for them, that if I let one slip he will say, “Mommy! We do not say “hate” or “stupid.” It makes me beam with pride but it also tells me he’s really listening. My hope is that he continues to listen and realize these words are not ok as he develops relationships outside of our home. I hope he calls others out on their misuse too, and creates an environment without those things present in his life.
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 24, 2012 at 9:41 am

I am glad this is working well for you too Julia. Thanks for visiting and leaving a great comment on your experience.

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Stephanie May 24, 2012 at 8:02 am

I am just now running into ‘hate’, and I know it’s my fault. It’s a word I use when I get all emotional and lose my temper. But, now one of my 4 year-old twins is using it when bad things happen to him. Wow, it really hits home when you hear it from a kid. It makes it so very obvious that I need to learn to settle my own quick reactions and teach my boys the same techniques.

As to the other bad words, I’m working on those too. Why? I heard my child utter, “Mommy, it’s not a damn cheeseburger.” Oh no.

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Naked Girl in a Dress May 24, 2012 at 9:40 am

The good news is they are 4 and not 14 so you can easily turn it around! I was watching baseball last night and said dammit. My son had a fit that I was using a bad word and there was not excuse for it (was what I was told). I guess I am telling you this because it is good to have these rules, but also recognize we will never be perfect.

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justkeepinitrealfolks May 26, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Well done Momma, very well done indeed!!!
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 27, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Thanks Deb!

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