Discipline Their Words

Older brother apologizing to upset sister
JackF/iStock/Thinkstock

Is your child talking back, giving sass or using his words to hurt others. Here are some ideas from other parents, who have had the same problems with their kids: 

A Solution for Sass

Our spunky 10-year-old daughter struggles with the tone of her voice when she's frustrated. Instead of immediately disciplining her for her sassy voice, we ask her if she wants a "re-do." If she accepts, she can try to repeat what she said in a calm, self-controlled voice. It allows her to hear the difference between a respectful and rude tone.

—Lisa Preuett

Curb Hurtful Remarks

My kids sometimes made cutting remarks or insulting observations that they dismissed as being humorous or "only words." To illustrate the lasting effect of words, I had my children hammer several nails into a board while saying a common insult for each nail. Then I had them use the claw of the hammer to pull out half of the nails. I pointed out that, like our words, even if the nails were "taken back," the damage to the board remained. Words not taken back (the embedded nails) also stayed. This illustration allowed my kids to see the harm their words could inflict and to think more carefully before speaking.

—Marybeth MItcham

Curbing Gossip

My daughters were talking with friends when I overheard several of the girls gossiping about classmates. My daughters weren't making negative comments, but they weren't attempting to stop them, either. I realized that my girls needed to learn appropriate ways to respond when conversation turns to gossip.

Later, I explained to my girls that our entertainment should not come at the expense of someone else's reputation. I suggested three simple ways they could respond to gossip in the future:

Change the subject. Get the group talking about something else.

Defend the person. Say something like, "Oh, she's always been kind to me," or "Are you sure that's true about her? She seems like a girl with a lot of character."

Ask the gossiper to stop. Explain that you don't want to be involved in speaking poorly about another person.

— Vanessa Peters

Curb Name-Calling

During a card game, my friend's frustrated daughter called her brother a hurtful name. I expected my friend to simply correct her daughter, but instead, she brought the game to a halt and said, "You know the rule—three nice for one bad."

The daughter slumped in her chair and sighed in exasperation, "But he deserved it. He's not playing fair."

Mom waited patiently until her daughter finally came up with three nice words to say about her brother.

Before the game resumed, my friend explained to her daughter, "Acting in anger never solves a problem. God wants us to act in love in all situations, even when your brother is being a pain."

Soon the incident was forgotten and everyone was laughing again. I marveled at how my friend's "three for one" rule helped restore harmony in her family.

—Jackie Castle

“Curb Hurtful Remarks” first appeared in the February/March 2016 issue of Thriving Family magazine. “A Solution for Sass” first appeared in the October/November 2015 issue of Thriving Family magazine. “Curbing Gossip” first appeared in the October/November 2013 issue of Thriving Family magazine. “Curb Name-Calling” first appeared in the March/April 2012 issue of Thriving Family magazine.
“Curb Hurtful Remarks” is copyrighted © 2016 by Marybeth Mitcham.“A Solution for Sass” is copyrighted © 2015 by Lisa Preuett. “Curbing Gossip” is copyrighted © 2013 by Vanessa Peters. “Curb Name-Calling” is copyrighted © 2012 by Jackie Castle.

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