what to do about violent language?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Lulu, Mar 7, 2008.

  1. Lulu

    Lulu New Member

    For those of you who have young difficult children (4-5) who use threatening violent language, how do you respond?

    N has begun creating stories (when he is particularly upset with his parents) where the bad guys kill all the good guys. He also occasionally does pretend play where he is the bad guy and shoots or bombs the good guys. (And guess who gets to be the good guys when we play with him?) No amount of encouragement will sway him from his goal.

    Also, a girlfriend of mine has a 4yo who sometimes says he wants to kill himself, his mommy, or his daddy when he is frustrated about being discplined. She is mystified and doesn't know the best way to respond if at all (I told her I would ask you wise women.)

    Do we just ignore this language/play? Walk away? Or does it need to be addressed?

    Any thoughts are appreciated.
  2. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    First, make sure to take a close look at what the child is being exposed to at home and away. You can find aggression and violence in some pretty surprising places if you pay attention. Good guys/bad guys is pretty typical young male stuff but I would eliminate any programming, DVDS, computer games, video games (even dad's!). It really sets a confusing double standard if it's okay for them to do it on the screen but not in real life.

    This is one where you have to go at it by trial and error. Lulu, in your case I probably wouldn't continue to play if my son were shooting and bombing me. As soon as the play turned to battle I'd quietly say "We don't play fighting in our house" or "I don't play fighting" and I would leave.

    As for your girlfriend's situation if ignoring it hasn't worked or it's getting worse, I would probably give humor a try. "Oh no!! If you kill yourself we're going to be stuck here with all these extra Girl Scout cookies!".

    Sometimes doing or saying the unexpected takes the wind out of their sails and helps a lot. For example y difficult child gets really grumpy at having to wait for cars to get out of the school parking lot at the end of his day. Sometimes he grumbles and mumbles about how he wishes he had a bazooka to blow up the cars. Not long ago he was really in a funk and started in and then I tossed out a "difficult child, hand me up a bazooka, will you?" I never talk like that and always discourage it in him so it totally set him to giggling.
  3. GinAndTonic

    GinAndTonic New Member

    Have you read "Raising Caine" by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson? There's some discussion in it about violent language, super heros, toy guns, and all that. I think that it's pretty normal behavior for a little boy.

    But on the other hand, I'm certainly no expert on "normal"!
  4. starcloaked

    starcloaked New Member

    I haven't been around here much lately, but wanted to jump in and respond to your post because it's a lot like my difficult child. He's been doing much better lately with help from a great team at school, and we're starting to realize that a lot of that "bad guy" talk comes from him seeing himself as a bad guy. His self-esteem was a lot lower than we realized, and he actually feels like when he's playing superhero stuff (as many boys do), he SHOULD be the bad guy. There's no quick fix, but I try to make my guy feel like a superhero as much as I can. I also try to explain in detail why scary talk like that isn't allowed. I'm coming to realize that because of his NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD), he can't understand the context differences when he hears others talk about scary things like vampires or bad guys, and when he takes on that persona and, for example, pipes up in a restaurant "I drink blood!" I try to remind him that it's scary for others when he says that stuff, and it's only okay when people are already talking about vampires. He needs to be taught that kind of social stuff verbally, and it takes a while to integrate it into his thinking, and to sometimes think of himself as the good guy, and not the bad guy.

    One other thing is that since a lot of the bad guy stuff is about power (bad guys have more power than kindergarteners at least) we try to show him how much more power good guys have.