Kids really do say the darnedest things, don’t they?
It’s usually one of the most endearing things about them. Their innocence and fresh eyes can provide adults with the most amazing insights sometimes.
And sometimes, they can be downright mortifying.
Tales from grade one – Stetson, a boy from my class, was standing with his friend, waiting for his mother to pick them up for a field trip. When she pulled up and got out of the car, his friend let loose with a line I’ll never forget.
“Wow Stetson! Your mom is really fat!”
Stetson’s mom was 8 months pregnant at the time, so she thought it was more funny than horrifying, but you get my drift, and you’ve probably been witness to a similar situation.
I remember a comedian talking about a similar occurrence with his daughter, reminiscing about how he realized later that he should have apologized to the man she had offended, and then explained to her what was wrong with what she said.
Instead, he had picked her up and run out of Starbucks, yelling “LA LA LAAAA LAAA!” in order to drown out any further comments.
The truth is, if you’ve got kids, you can pretty much count on facing this situation yourself at least once or twice. Here are a few tips on how to deal with it gracefully, and hopefully prevent it happening again.
1. Stay calm. Most kids don’t have a filter yet and are making observations about the world they live in. Sometimes they are brutally honest simply because they don’t know that what they say may be hurtful.
The best thing to do is to simply apologize to the offended person, and let them know you will have a chat with your child about the event.
2. Don’t let too much time pass, but wait until you are alone and explain how their comments may have hurt someone else’s feelings. Kids feel embarrassment just like we do, and getting a talking-to in front of a crowd is likely to upset them.
Remember, your child didn’t mean to do anything malicious, and didn’t realize that what she said was wrong, so take a few deep breaths and make sure you’ve gotten over the shock and discomfort of what happened before you address the situation.
3. Admit you’re embarrassed. You know those times when you start to blush, and if you try to stop yourself from blushing, you only blush more? That usually happens with embarrassment too. By simply saying out loud, “Oh my, I am so embarrassed,” you’ll feel your embarrassment slip away, and the other person will most likely try to make you feel better by telling you it’s okay.
In fact, I’ve always found that there’s a sweet little bond formed between people when they share an awkward moment. You’re both forced to step out of your comfort zone for an instant, and you get a quick glimpse of one another’s vulnerability before you (hopefully) share a laugh about the whole thing.
As much as we might like the idea of our children being born with refined diplomacy skills, that’s just not realistic, and in fact, not really as desirable as you might think. Kids need to understand social interaction, and situations like these, however uncomfortable for their parents, provide them with a necessary learning experience.
Don’t worry; down the road, after the embarrassment has passed and the awkwardness has faded, these mortifying little moments will likely become some of your favorite memories. They make for great party conversations and wedding speeches.
And remember, in twelve years or so, you’ll be the one embarrassing them, so just consider it an investment.
If you are dealing with common behavioral issues like tantrums, not listening and more, you can check out Kids: The Manual, a discipline system for kids aged 2-12:
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