Aggressive language

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, May 25, 2011.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    My current concern is my son's aggressive or hoodlum-ish language, which he uses at the slightest opportunity. To put that in immediate context - it is all playground version, not anything more sinister than that, and all French because he doesn't know this language in English since I am basically his only source of English :) But it is not good and is surprising to hear coming out of a four year old's mouth. Yesterday, for example, I went out for the day with a friend and her 9 year old son to swim at a lake in the mountains. As always with J, there were good bits - times when he played normally and in friendly fashion with the other boy, and then some incidents where he was just.... well, difficult. When the other boy did something he didn't like a couple of times, he says things like "I don't like you!" or "Your not my friend any more" which of course does not go down well and creates some tension - my friend handled in skilfully on one occasion and just said to him very firmly but in a kind tone of voice "If you say things like that to A, he won't want to play with you any more or come out with you." J stood there, reflecting, looking sad and then said "Sorry" to the boy in a very contrite tone of voice... But there's also a kind of frequent use of playground swear words - well, are they even swear words, it's more like toilet words - and expressions that could be loosely translated as something like "I don't give a damn" and "****". It all makes him sound like a surly and reckless teenager... at 4, this kind of language is obviously inappropriate and I'd like him to stop it. Is that achievable?? I try "correcting" him at home, telling him that I don't like this kind of language and I and other people don't want to hear it, but it seems to have had limited if any success.
    Is it a passing phase, I wonder, or is it just going to get worse and more graphic as he gets older... Really ugly language and phrases that it's not good to hear coming out of a child.
  2. SRL

    SRL Active Member

  3. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member

    The language is a symptom of poor coping skills and unsolved problems. Try to find out your child's concerns, the siuations which give rise to these problems and work on solutions that avoid or fix the problem. Teaching a kid better language is important but is not a solution to the underlying problem giving rise to frustration , it is working on the symptom

  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Malika, we don't know if it will get worse or better, but somebody told me once that, in children who have trouble expressing themselves, it helps if we help the child come up with substitute words. For example, I taught my son, rather than to yell when he is having trouble, to say, "I'm frustrated!" It worked! He never used potty language, but he still had no idea how to express himself. We would do some role playing, which he enjoyed, and he really caught onto alternative phrases. I highly recommend trying this.

    Will it work? Hon, I know you are a great mom and very concerned about your precious boy, but we don't know what will work. We hope something will click for him. I don't care for aggressive language either. Carefully targeting the behavior worked very well for my son. He is eighteen (almost) right now and very mellow. I like to think (hope) that we had SOMETHING to do with it :) Take care and big hugs to you and little J.
  5. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Thanks for all those good thoughts. I suspect that J likes the shock value of using these words rather than it being because he can't express himself... But it might be worth asking him to say "I am feeling cross" or "I am feeling frustrated" rather than these outbursts of volatile language...
    Tonight we have some fuss and bother because he has been told he can't go swimming with the rest of the school tomorrow because he has two TINY little spots on his tummy which allegedly are contagious... Seems silly but there you are. He was naturally disappointed and tried to exploit the situation by asking to watch a DVD tonight - our rule is no DVDs or television during the week but only on the weekend. When I said no and wouldn't change for all his pleading, he shouted "I am going to leave you all by yourself! I am going to stay with Daddy in the summer and leave you all by yourself!". Which is really astonishingly manipulative and unpleasant a thing for a small child to say. However I didn't take it personally or get upset! I just said it made me sad to hear him saying such a horrible thing. I wonder, though, what better ways there might be to divert this really unattractive behavioural trait... This is just the sort of adult I do not want him to become, verbally abusive and bullying...
  6. keista

    keista New Member

    I've found that when kids that young are using potty language it's because they are hearing it somewhere, and often. "normally" my kids don't swear, and even correct me on the milder swear words. A few months ago a started getting complaints from friends' parents that DD1 was swearing. I was shocked to say the least. DD1 knew it was wrong, but it somehow became a habit for her. Fortunately I found out quickly enough that it was coming from our 19yo babysitter. I had a talk with her (I must have been really stressed because theis lovely girl talked like a truck driver, and I completely overlooked it), and she's corrected her language, and now DD1 doesn't rely on such language "shortcuts" any more. by the way, son's first 2 words were cookie and milk. His 3rd was S***. husband looked at each other and cleaned up our act right then and there.

    Phrases like these are "absolutes" Many kids use them. I always tried to correct them in the moment. I don't like what you did, that, etc. I'm not happy with you right now. Unfortunately much of it has to do with learnign how to socialize with peers, and I have no advice there (still struggling to find help for my kids in that area because I'm not comfortable in that area)

    As for that manipulative and unpleasant stuff, I think it's great you did not take it personally - that's exactly how I would have handled it. It does seem. very sophisticated for a 4 year old, but not surprising. You did not say how you responded to the comment. The rare times mine have "threatened" something like this, I tell them that I hope they don't because I would miss them too much, but I don't see how I could stop them. Then there are the times that they call me mean and say I'm a bad mom to try and get their way. I tell them they can go find a new mom. that usually shocks them to reality. ;)
  7. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    He must have heard it at school, from the other kids. The two childminders he has occasionally certainly do not regale him with phrases such as "Stinky bottom!" or "Poo-poo willy" (rough translations) :) The difference between him and other children is that he uses this language in front of adults... I think it's the oppositional thing. He knows this is forbidden territory so he wants to go there.
    I didn't respond to his unpleasant remarks with anger or heat because to do so would have been acting as though he was an adult - ie making a volitional and nasty statement. He is a child using crude tactics to try to force me, childishly, into getting what he wants and "punish" me for not giving it to him... It does all remind me of my ex-husband when he was in full glory and there is something about J that is like him - they certainly have a strong chemistry. He was too young when I left his father to consciously remember any of what happened between us but... as we know, children pick up far more on some other, non-conscious level than we probably realise.