Thursday, 5 April 2012

Should a child be admonished for telling smutty jokes?

A child should be admonished for telling smutty jokes, but gently at first. It's possible that he doesn't even know what the words mean and is just trying to get your reaction. He may have heard it at school from his more mature classmates, who are repeating it because it makes them feel important and "cool".

The first thing to remember when your child tells an off-color joke is not to laugh, even if you have to bite your tongue. The slightest show of humor will be taken as positive reinforcement by your young story-teller.

It is just as important not to over-react. Some children believe that negative attention is better than no attention at all. Remember, he may not understand the point of the joke and even if he does, you should choose another time for "Family Life" education discussions, Deal with one issue at a time.

Ask him where he heard the joke. If it turns out to be a family member or friend, you might want to have word with the other adult about appropriate humor for children.

If it originated at school, ask the name of the child who told it. It you notice more questionable material coming home from the same source, you may want to have a word with the teacher and she can try to curtail further episodes of this sort.

This is a questionable strategy, because, children being children, forbidden fruit usually seems more inviting, and she'll only succeed in driving the smutty stories underground.

It's better to accept the fact that, contemporary society being as it is, this is only the first of many such jokes and off-color stories that your child will hear. You can control what happens in your own home, within your own family. You cannot control what happens outside: in the schoolyard, at the playground, at soccer games, dancing lessons, or any of the other places your child will frequent.

To the child, you might say in a calm but dismissive voice , " That's not even funny, it's dumb. Besides, we don't tell those kinds of stories in our family. I'll let it go with a warning this time. Next time, there may be a "Time-out".

On your next shopping trip, purchase an age-appropriate joke book for the child. There are lots of them available in the children's sections of book stores.

Tell your youngster two or three funny stories a day, or if he's reading, give him the book, so he'll have lots of ammunition to draw his classmates' attention away from unsuitable material.

If he brings another off-colour story home, calmly send him to his room until he can come back and tell you a joke that's really funny, because you're tired of the silly stuff he's been listening to .

Remind him that people in your family don't bother with those kinds of stories. He'll soon get the message. If not, increase the length of "time-out" periods until he does.

In your " Family Life" discussions with your child, at other times, discuss the topics in the jokes, giving the correct, age-appropriate information, but also incorporating the morality that you hope he will adopt as he gets older.

It's inevitable, in today's world, that children will encounter mature subject matter before they are old enough to handle it. All responsible parents can do is enforce house rules and try to ensure that the child has the correct information and proper attitude to avoid any permanent damage.

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