Although there are many, many reasons I’ve chosen to homeschool, one of the main causes is simply because I am trying to raise my children to speak and act in an honorable manner. Unfortunately, the atmosphere in a good portion of public schools is one in which bad behavior and foul language go unchecked. Crude language is seen as a sign of maturity, and those who do not speak that way are often teased.
I am not for one second trying to put forth the notion that my kids are perfect. I’m chuckling just at the thought of that. However, how my children present themselves to others is important enough to me to merit a high place on my “reasons to homeschool” roster.
One of the biggest dilemmas I face is that of allowing my children to play with neighborhood kids. Unfortunately, most of them use language I prefer my children not to hear coming from their peers (or, in a perfect world, not at all). This puts me in a very difficult situation. Since we only have one car, I am not able to drive my children around to various places to meet up with other homeschoolers throughout the day, which leaves us with only one option: spending time with the neighbors. Since they are genuinely good kids, although a bit misguided, and since I can’t ban my children from ever having any friends, I’ve had to come up with a few ways to keep their friends’ playtime banter as wholesome as possible.
5 Ways to Stave Off Bad Language
#1- Set solid boundaries.
When my children meet a new playmate, if I hear them use a word we do not allow my children to say, I will nicely, but firmly, explain to them that we do not allow that sort of language. If they continue, I tell them they have to leave for the day but can come back another day if they are willing to follow our rules.
#2- Be firm, yet approachable.
This is really important since many of these kids are actually looking for this sort of guidance because they are lacking it at home. We used to have a neighbor boy who would come in our yard to play but would often have to be corrected for issues like hitting, breaking toys, and the words he chose. I always admonished him in a loving manner, yet he knew I meant business. This never stopped him from thinking well of me, though. Every time he saw me he used to run up to me just to say hi. Children are more apt to listen to adults who they respect and make them feel respected.
#3- Get to know them.
If you actually take the time to get to know these kids, it’s much easier to see where they’re coming from. What sort of a home life do they have? What are their strengths? Their difficulties? Having this information helps to know how to deal with certain behavioral problems that may arise.
#4- Be present during playtime.
I don’t mean to stand over them in a creepy sort of way, but be tuned in to what’s going on. I often open my kitchen window so that I can hear what’s happening while the kids play outside. Sometimes I’ll peek out the door and offer some popsicles or occasionally ask if anyone needs anything. Once you’ve established a rapport with these kids, and they know that you’re firm in your convictions, these little appearances will remind them that you’re around.
#5- Explain the reason behind your rules.
Sometimes children think that the only reason adults set boundaries is because they like to tell people what to do. Let them know why you feel the way you do. One of the best ways to explain to children the importance of using clean language is this:
“If you want to grow up to be respected, you have to be respectable and respectful.”
It’s unfortunate that I even had to write this post today. Children need loving guidance from the adults in their life, and no child should be left to try to figure things out on their own. Since this is a reality, however, I’ve had to come up with a plan to not only protect my children but help their friends, as well.
If you’re in a situation like I am, I hope these steps may help you determine how to handle it. It can be all too easy to write children like this off for the sake of our own, but if we are not willing to guide them, who will be?