Rude Toddlers: How To Teach Kids Tact

Life is certainly never dull when you have toddlers and the unintentionally rude things they say and do ensures both endless hilarity and humiliation galore.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Get Dads Involved In Parenting

I am a proud mum to two little people: 20-month-old and three-year-old daughters. They’re endless fun, and hard work at once, but it’s shopping trips that can leave me especially embarrassed.

Just this week, I had to explain to my eldest why it wasn’t cool to loudly ask me at the supermarket aisle: “Why is the man (a female checkout operator with a crew cut) wearing lipstick?” Shudder!

Then, my one-year-old sufficiently disgraced herself (and me) at a play centre on the weekend by screaming “Mermaid!” every time she laid eyes on a little redhead who did actually closely resemble a mini Ariel in her new obsession: The Little Mermaid.

The poor little redhead was suitably terrified of my tiny banshee, who then exacerbated the situation by chasing her around for hugs. Oh the vast and infinite horror. And the fun didn’t end there: my feisty, little one-year-old then started screaming “Mine!” and pushing others off her favourite animal toy, once redhead and her mum had fled the building.

toddlers, toddler taming, toddler social development

So, how on earth do we teach our toddlers sensitivity and tact? And why does it come naturally to some kids and not others?

Child experts say to gently explain to your toddler how certain involuntarily rude statements and behaviours affect others in the hope they’ll come to understand why it’s socially unacceptable. After all, your little tykes are busy testing out their social and language skills.

In addition, toddlers are also renowned for their total lack of self-control and are yet to fully develop a sense of empathy and understanding that people’s feelings can be hurt by unkind, tactless remarks.

Psychologists call this “theory of mind” which is where children come to realise that other people have thoughts and feelings different to their own.
And the age at which they learn varies greatly, depending on the social maturity of the child.
Daycare, which often gets undue bad press, actually encourages this important development of social skills and empathy towards others as children interact and feelings are inevitably hurt.

toddlers, toddler taming, toddler social development

Another recent clanger, was when my three-year-old asked me, thankfully, within the safety of our own home: “Why is Jacinta (her new kindy teacher) a man?” For the record, Jacinta is most definitely not a man, just a rather voluptuous woman.

So, it seems yet another important and essential parental responsibility is encouraging toddlers to have inquiring minds – my girls ask endless questions, sigh – while also educating them about what’s appropriate conversation and what’s not.

Child experts say not to scold your child for his/her honesty, call him/her rude, or discourage them from speaking their minds. Instead, you could try explaining that words are powerful: they can make people both happy and sad.

I think it’s also, in part, that fun parental lesson about teaching toddlers what constitutes good manners; encouraging kids to be kind and respectful, by example. And like all toddler-related matters, it’ll take every ounce of your patience and tolerance, ladies (at least it does me).

Now, if we can just teach our husbands to similarly always think before they speak…

Images, in order, via, and

February 10, 2015

Why Don’t My Kids Listen To Me?

Are you getting the impression your kids ears are painted on? Do you keep repeating yourself and then end up exploding? There are plenty of parents out there that are asking the age old question… Why don’t my kids to listen to me?

Firstly, you need to be aware that humans are biologically programmed to listen out for quiet noises. It’s a survival mechanism that has kept us alive for generations. We also find loud, unpleasant noise uncomfortable and try to block it out when we can’t get rid of it. So, if you’ve found yourself screaming or nagging at the kids; sorry to say, but they’re probably blocking you out. By treating them like smaller humans who respond to yelling or nagging the same as adults, you will get much better results. Luckily, we have some great tips to save your lungs and your nerves.

  • First up, stop yelling or nagging. You will find that as you lower your voice or cease repeating yourself, the kids will have a greater chance of listening to you. If you need to speak to your kids about anything, be sure you have their attention and limit any distractions.
  • Secondly, organise time for family meetings or specific times to communicate. This time should be technology free for all members of the family. If you can’t eat a meal together, set aside some time during the week or month to provide a forum for effective communication. Remember to give everyone a chance to speak, be heard, acknowledged and respected. It will give you all an opportunity to express issues, thoughts and expectations, while helping the household function more effectively. If your child is too young to be involved in a family meeting, organise an appropriate time to communicate with them in much the same way.
  • If you have an issue with a particular child’s behaviour, sit them down and discuss it with them. If you yell, rant and rave; they will zone out.
  • If you find yourself nagging to have chores done, set up a roster during a family meeting. Ask for volunteers for particular chores rather than allocating them yourself. As long as everyone is contributing, it doesn’t matter what jobs they do. Make sure you establish consequences if chores are neglected and always follow through.

Finally, if your kids aren’t listening to you; getting your child’s attention is key and you won’t need to compete with other distractions. Providing a forum for effective communication is a practical way of discussing issues, voicing expectations and resolve grievances. Children can participate from an early age and you will be laying down a foundation of open communication and mutual respect within your family. 

By Kim Chartres

June 18, 2014