unnamed (1)Call me old-fashioned, but I’m trying to protect my children and keep them innocent for as long as possible. We live in a cozy, safe suburb. I don’t watch the news while they’re awake – they barely know that television programming exists outside of cartoons and Sunday afternoon football. They don’t need to be exposed to adult language, situations, or the tension and violence of today’s headlines.

There are also several words that my husband and I don’t say in front of them (in addition to stupid, loser, and potty words that mine are only allowed to say in the bathroom). I even change the words during story time if necessary.

1. Hate

Instead, we say don’t like or something more articulate. A four-year-old shouldn’t hate anything. Teach respect: respect for other people and the way they do things, which may be different than the way you do things. I want my children to value everything from people to feelings to toys. I understand that your child may not eat broccoli, but she shouldn’t hate it, which is just plain lazy speech. She should just prefer other foods over it (“I like apples better.”)

This simple change in language teaches tolerance at a young age. What about the kid who loves broccoli? Her feelings may be hurt if my child says he hates it, while the broccoli-loving child is eating mountains of it. It starts with something innocent like broccoli, but it’s a great lesson in respecting other opinions.

2. Tired

You hear it all the time as an excuse to behavior – he’s tired. What you don’t hear is the implied second part. The tiredness actually doesn’t explain why he’s throwing a tantrum / stealing a toy from another child / hitting / not responding when an adult asks a question.

My mother told me when my oldest was just weeks old to not use that word and I thankfully listened. Parents universally find the cartoon character Caillou whiny and annoying. See the hilarious BuzzFeed video above, If Parents Were Honest, which among other points, will confirm that parents want to murder him. Telling people that your child is tired in front of her reinforces whininess.

I know that children get tired. I agree that children act differently before scheduled sleep than they do the rest of the day. If you happen to be in a public place directly before their sleep time or if your child is sick, I understand. You don’t have to tell anyone they’re tired.

If I see my children starting to behave badly because they’re tired, I get them home. If I see my children starting to behave badly at home, I change the activity, let them watch some TV, or go out for a small outing to change the scenery. But, I don’t utter the words, “oh, you’re tired.” I don’t want them to repeat that word and use it as an excuse. I want them to know that if you feel this way, you (a) go to sleep or (b) change the activity. I want them to recognize what to do if they’re tired, being responsible for their actions whether they’re tired or not.

There are better words for them to use: “I’m ready to go home;” “I want to do something else;” “Can I have my iPad for a little?;” “Is it time for bath?” Even a simple, “I’m sleepy” is so much more tolerable, is not as cranky, and, in my house means “process me for bed immediately.”

As their parent, it’s my responsibility to make sure that they’re sleeping properly, getting their rest if they’re sick, and at home if they’re too tired to function well with other children.

3. Bored

I don’t allow my children to tell me that they’re bored. Similar to my reasoning on tired, I dislike the whininess. If the child is bored, the activity or scenery needs to be changed. I will help them select a new activity or place to play in the house or suggest a small outing to get out of the house if we’ve been inside all day. But, since I’ve not only provided plenty of toys and space for them to play, I’ve taught them how to play and am willing to play with them, the deal is they can’t say I’m bored.

My kids obviously know these banned words and will hear them in their childhoods. But, children follow your example. If they don’t hear them from your mouth, they’ll learn to not use them and find better words to express themselves.