Dr. Laura says that parents often get side tracked by a behavior, without getting to the root cause. In this name-calling role play, the bigger issue here was big sister’s right to have some of her belongings left alone. I, the big sister, have to share everything and can’t even protect my own stuff, so I got super angry and called my little sister names. If our mum had come in and said “Stop calling each other names, you know better!” we would have never gotten to that. At the end, our mum got us both laughing. If we hadn’t have done that, all the words wouldn’t have mattered! Both kids would have walked away with a chip on their shoulder.
Don’t worry about who started it. Help each child tell the other how it made them feel.
It’s not actually for your benefit as a parent to pass judgement and understand “who started it.” That’s kind of a relief right? We don’t have to be super detectives. We just have to help each child tell the other how it made them feel. Only when they begin to understand how their actions made the other person feel does there begin to be repair between them.
Use extreme or ridiculous statements to lighten the mood, and to respond to statements like “You love her more!”
Dr. Laura says it gets to a point where a child might express their biggest fears like “You don’t love me!” It’s a great time to get a bit silly and say something like “You want me to only love you! You want to be #1! What about me? Who will love me?” Saying this in an over dramatic and silly way is another way to get them laughing.
In mainstream parenting advice, if a kid calls a name, it’s likely to be suggested that her or she needs to be punished or removed them from the situation. In this role play however, we didn’t even make name calling the issue. We instead moved on to the real reason big sister felt pushed over the edge to call names in the first place.
2 Tips For Dealing with Name Calling
- Use affirmative language – “You can’t call names” vs “You can tell your sister what you’re mad about without using mean words.”
- Bring up your child’s intention – A child might say “but ‘baby’ is not a bad word!”
How do you address name calling? Do you have a go to phrase or reminder? Is there a recurring issue that is usually behind it? TELL US IN THE COMMENTS!