Posted in Education, Family, Mental Health, Opinion, parenting, teaching, toddlers, Uncategorized

When your child doesn’t have any friends

This article is not about homeschooling; however, this is always the first question I get asked since I’ve decided to do it, and was honestly my first big concern: How will my daughter socialize?

Making friends was never easy for her, keeping them was even harder. One on one she seemed to play great, but you throw another kid or two or twenty (daycare/preschool) in the mix and forget about it.

Why is socialization important?

No one can deny that people have to be able to communicate, work, and live with each other. Unless you go off grid you will have to come in contact with others. But besides the necessity of it, there are other perks for children to be able to socialize.

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For younger children, being in a daycare/preschool/play group can help teach them patience, empathy, and help them with their fine motor skills. Young children inspire one another so if your child is late to the party on walking, they may do it sooner if they are around other kids who walk. Same with talking. Same with bad habits too, so be warned.

These early interactions start to create soft skills that your child will need for the rest of their lives.

The second big one, especially for children who are a little older, is self-esteem. Having friends and others that are like minded, helps boost your self-esteem. Being lonely, feeling alienated, and feeling isolated can destroy it.

Currently, I am in several ADHD Groups and I can’t tell you how many times I see moms saying things like “my son didn’t have anyone show up to his Birthday party” or “my daughter never gets invited anywhere”. It breaks my heart. Those kids know that they are being shunned and that can be devastating to their self esteem.

 

Is it as important as it’s made to sound?

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I think yes and no. Like I stated above, older children may suffer more without it, but the skills start in the toddler years. However, do I think you should throw your kid in every social opportunity that pops up because it’s crucial that they interact with kids everyday? No.

The first classroom is your home. You are teaching your child from day one whether you are meaning to or not. Back in the day, that was the only education. Parents, family members, or tutors (for the wealthy) taught all the children together.

TIMELINE OF EDUCATION SYSTEM IN AMERICA– pretty interesting but may make you leery of the education system if you’re not already, js.

The government stepped in and slowly enacted Compulsory Education Laws, state by state, starting in Massachusetts in 1852 and ending with Mississippi in 1917. Why does this matter? It’s just to show that children weren’t shut ins prior to being forced into public schools (or private even). But it also shows that they weren’t in classrooms full of other students either (and a lot were working horrid hours and conditions doing child labor but that’s a different post).

It has been proven that you need socialization to have a healthy lifestyle. Even if you are anti-social, you interact with people in one form or another and we as a species need that. What I think is overblown is HOW much young children need.

Under 5, the emphasis of social interactions should be on the family. This is the where the child should feel safest. This is where their trust should build a foundation, in their homes. I don’t just mean parents either: grandparents, cousins, siblings, etc. Play groups, community events, and family events are great ways to get doses of interactions for them as well. If they have to go to daycare because you work (been there) then that’s fine. Don’t do it JUST for the socialization aspect is all I’m saying.

How can I help my struggling child?

For whatever reason some kids (and adults) are just born smooth, confident, and/or friendly. Some kids are not. It’s something they have to work on. The set-up of a large classroom may be an overwhelming place for them to try and make friends.

If you find your child isn’t getting the interactions they need with other kids here a few things to try:

Image result for lonely child

Give them a chance to socialize in smaller groups: that’s easier for younger children (like mentioned above); however, there are options for all ages. The Scouts, art groups, summer programs (look for ones with smaller class sizes), STEM clubs, and other similar programs are a good way to socialize with children in a smaller setting with a similar interest. This helps with having an ice breaker and may have students from other schools they haven’t had a chance to interact with during the school year.

Play Groups/Play Dates: I was kind of anti play dates when I first had my daughter but as more and more of my friends had kids I was okay with it (socialize much?). It was a good way for me to get some adult time while my kids got to play with someone new.

Family exposure: I think it’s easy to overlook just how important it is to visit family when you have children. They need that interaction just as much as your grandparents, parents, and other family members do. With technology being what it is, it may be easy to write off actually visiting each other but make a point to do so.

Pen Pals: Because of the above mentioned Facebook post problem I kept seeing I decided to start a Facebook group to meet Pen Pals (for kids with ADD, ADHD, ASD, and any other disorder that may hinder their social skills). This could be great outlet for your child to make a friend at their own pace!

Pick-A-Pen Pal

Buddy Bench: in case there are any teachers or daycare professionals reading this I just heard about the Buddy Bench (it’s not new but it’s new to me). It’s where there is a designated spot (like a bench) that if a child goes to recess or break time and doesn’t have a friend to play with, they go to the Buddy Bench. That helps other kids who also don’t have a friend to play with find each other. Brilliant. Obviously this would not work with older kids the same way but maybe a different variation of the same idea could be implemented.

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Posted in Education, Family, Opinion, parenting, pop culture, Social Change, teaching, Uncategorized

Kindergarten is hard

“Kindergarten is the new first grade”- everyone in education ever

Kids are growing up faster these days.

When I was in kindergarten it was a half day. We had quiet time on our mats. I remember eating graham crackers with peanut butter. Letters were learned, numbers were counted, and we went home with paint on our hands.

I don’t remember tests. I don’t remember stress. I don’t really know if I had a “desk” per say.

“Five- and 6-year-old kids now spend hours in their seats doing academic work, often with little or  no recess or physical education, or  arts, music and science.  These kids are tested ad nauseam and expected to be able to do things by the time they leave kindergarten that some, perhaps even many, are not developmentally prepared to do” (source).

Since the early 2000’s kindergarten classes have been under attack to be more and more academically focused. More reading! More math! More STEM education! We need those computer engineers knowing what they’re doing early on! (Yes I realize the photo is not a kindergartner just stay with me here)

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But it’s not just quantitative data from a group of disgruntled moms, dads, or teachers. It’s actually a legit change in curriculum that has been studied since the 1990’s.  “The researchers compared kindergarten and first-grade classrooms between 1998 and 2010 and found that kindergarten classes had become increasingly like first grade” (source) Its not just the lengthening of the days and the increasing intensity of the subjects, its the lack of thought about their interest stimulation and the amount of testing (TESTING!) that kindergarten involves now.

“In 2010, 73 percent of kindergartners took some kind of standardized test. One-third took tests at least once a month. In 1998, they didn’t even ask kindergarten teachers that question. But the first-grade teachers in 1998 reported giving far fewer tests than the kindergarten teachers did in 2010” (source).

This is one reason I think the whole “play equals learning” movement has been thriving so much. Montessori schools, Tinkergartens, the interest in Swedish education systems, have all risen here in the U.S. because we don’t want our kids turning into intelligent zombies. This is also why a lot of people believe the diagnosis of ADHD, ADD, and other disorders has dramatically increased. I can’t say yes or no to that one, but I do feel that this sort of learning at such a young is detrimental to what is natural for a child.

One parent said “I’m worried that my son is going to hit a point where he doesn’t like learning in school because he thinks learning is humiliation and frustration, and discouragement and anger rather than curiosity and encouragement, and fun and discovery. I think that a lot of the policymakers don’t care. They think there are kids that are disposable” (source).

Children are curious by nature. Every child wants to learn when they are young. It’s exciting, and fun if you let it be.

“We saw notable drops in teachers saying they covered science topics like dinosaurs and outer space, which kids this age find really engaging,” says Bassok, the study’s lead author” (source). 

“The percentage of teachers who reported offering music every day in kindergarten dropped by half, from 34 percent to 16 percent. Daily art dropped from 27 to 11 percent” (source).

But why is this movement towards more strict lessons and academics for such young students still gaining momentum when so many people seem to be against it?

“Much of this is tied to the belief that academic performance should be the sole measure of school and teacher effectiveness” (source). 

That. Right there. “Effectiveness”. Qualitative data. Competitions. Seeing our students succeed “better” than other countries. Better then other states. Better than the county next to us. Better. Because more academics means higher test scores, which means your class is “better”. It’s kind of a sad premise. What about people skills? What about emotional learning? What about art skills? Music ability? Physical ability? What if your child is an amazing unicycle rider, is there nothing good to say about that? I couldn’t do it. I think it’s awesome.

What about soft skills? Things that you can’t teach an adult. Things that you learn as a child. Empathy, understanding, and all that hippy dippy stuff that makes you a decent member of society. You learn those things in kindergarten.

What about the argument that this rise in a more strict curriculum of math and language arts is only due to the fact that children are entering kindergarten more school ready? That this emphasis on early education is creating children who are already able to read and write at the age of five? I say fine. That’s great if kids are grasping these concepts early because they want to. I love early literacy initiatives when they are in a fun and open environment. But the structure and the testing doesn’t need to change in order to stimulate a child’s intellect. Centers, dramatic play, art, music; all these things still play crucial roles in their development and do not hinder them reading and writing.

So I’m just going to leave this here to wrap all this up. I love this little poem so much it was even read at my wedding. Maybe one day we can get back to it but for now, this has been a huge deciding factor for me to homeschool. I know not everyone can and I’m not trying to sway you to, but just keep in mind your kids are going through more after a day of kindergarten then we ever had to.

All I Really Need To Know
I Learned In Kindergarten

by Robert Fulghum

All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten.
ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do
and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not
at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the
sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:
Share everything.

Play fair.

Don’t hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat.

Flush.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life – learn some and think some
and draw and paint and sing and dance and play
and work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic,
hold hands, and stick together.

Be aware of wonder.
Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup:
The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody
really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even
the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die.
So do we.

And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books
and the first word you learned – the biggest
word of all – LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere.
The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation.
Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any of those items and extrapolate it into
sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your
family life or your work or your government or
your world and it holds true and clear and firm.
Think what a better world it would be if
all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about
three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with
our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments
had a basic policy to always put thing back where
they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you
are – when you go out into the world, it is best
to hold hands and stick together.

Posted in Education, Family, fun, history, Holidays, reading, summer, teaching, toddlers, Uncategorized

Summer Learning: A lesson on pirates

I haven’t actually done any “educational” posts in awhile and my daughter asked me this morning if we could learn about pirates.

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I’m like YES, obviously we can learn about pirates.

Little known fact about me; I used to be obsessed with pirates. I did a research paper in graduate school about Blackbeard as my example of good and bad leadership skills. Peter and Wendy was actually the first chapter book that I read out loud to my daughter. I found myself censoring a few things but I digress-

I decided since I would be looking up some things for her to learn that I would share them with you to add some education to your summer break.

(This post contains affiliate links)

Treasure hunts-

One of the first things you think of, when you think of pirates, is lost treasure. “Booty” it’s called. Coins, jewels, and other riches obtained by piracy (theft generally speaking).

Treasure hunts are easy to set up at home. You can use rocks, seashells, plastic money, or their own toys. Hide them around your backyard or in your house. The big treasure prize should marked on a “map”.

Is this historically accurate? Not really. Most pirates didn’t bury their treasure, they spent it. One of the most famous pirates who did actually have a hidden buried treasure was Captain William Kidd. His loot has since all been found (at least they think so).

 

Legends and Folklore-

One thing pirates were, were storytellers. If you think about it, all that time on the sea with little to do in between navigating, thieving, and drinking; storytelling and music were a must.

Here is some pirate folklore to share with your family. Most of the stories are ghost stories or legends in nature. Some are about actual historical figures. There are plenty of stories out there about curses and signs of impending doom. A shark following the ship for instance meant death was approaching. Fridays were a unlucky day to sail. Gold hoop earrings could bring the pirate good luck and fortune on their travels. Never change the name of your boat, unless you want to run aground.

Some of the most famous folklore to come from pirates and other sailors were those of the mermaid. Different countries have different takes on what a mermaid is or was, and different ideas on what they looked like. Some believed them to be beautiful and wanting to help sailors get to safety. Most believed mermaids were there to lure men to their deaths.

I love the “You Wouldn’t Want to be a…” series. Lucky for you they have a pirate one!

Geography- 

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Piracy took place all over the world, but during the Gold Age of Piracy (1650’s to 1720’s) most of the action was in the Caribbean. They were referred to as Buccaneers if they were Caribbean pirates. Although Pirates of the Caribbean was extremely fictional, the city of Tortuga was quite accurate. It was a high spot for pirates to refresh before hitting the high seas again. Tortuga was off the island of Hispaniola.

Why was this area so hot to trot for pirates? Spanish ships were constantly trying to get gold and jewels back to England and Spain for one. For two, most of the indigenous peoples of the area were killed off in many of the islands thanks to settlements centuries earlier. Three, there were a lot of places to hide.

It was a great time to be a pirate. But all good things come to an end and eventually England got sick of their money and ships going into the sea. The navy started to hunt down pirates in a ruthless movement to end the Golden Age and they succeeded.

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Some resources to learn the geography of the Caribbean:

Geography Lesson: The Wonderfully Diverse Caribbean!

– Map making exercise for older elementary students. Great idea!

Jamaican Games for Fine and Gross Motor Skills Really cool list of ideas 

 Making steel drums for kids

 

 

Just for fun-

Mad Libs are a fun way to practice language arts skills! {Free printable}:

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Worksheets: Treasure Island Crossword Puzzle

For any adult wanting to brush up on their pirate knowledge I highly recommend this book:

And of course the classics:

        

Posted in Education, Family, Mental Health, Opinion, parenting, teaching, teen, toddlers, Uncategorized

Impulse Control, or lack there of

Stop hitting your brother.

Get your hands off your brother.

You can’t make your brother dance if he doesn’t want to.

Put down your brother.

He’s not a puppet, stop trying to make him talk.

No you can’t sit on his lap you’re twice his size.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST STOP TOUCHING YOUR BROTHER!

…impulse control. It’s one of the most difficult symptoms of ADHD that I have encountered. The endless talking, the inability to stop touching things, the constant

movement. More importantly, the lack of control. It’s hard as a parent and someone who grew up in a strict home to understand “can’t”. (Warning: Double negatives ahead) She can’t not touch him. She can’t not move around the couch. She can’t not speak over anyone else who is trying to speak to you. Anyone. Ever. And then of course is the backlash of “that’s just being a kid.” Just to clarify there’s a huge difference between a hyper child and a child with ADHD. A hyper child may have some issues keeping their hands to themselves, but in a child with ADHD you can see the physical discomfort as they try to restrain but can’t. If you haven’t had to see it that’s wonderful but I assure you it’s a problem.

Now that I have a better understanding of my daughter and what she’s going through I know now that no medicine is ever going to be able to help her in this area. Some parents can use the available treatments out there but even so, no amount of medication is going to work without some cognitive intervention.

How to handle impulse control:

    1. It’s okay to get mad/sad/frustrated. Just try to not project that onto your child. Yes, they need to be made aware that their behavior is not okay, and that it is causes conflict; however, making them feel guilty or responsible for your bad feelings is a bit much for a young child. For an older child, like 8 and up, I think they should know that what they are doing is causing you stress. That way you can work together on a plan of action.image
    2. Repeat yourself constantly. Something I loooooathe doing is repeating myself. I repeat; I loathe repeating myself. Did I mention I loathe it? Loathe what? Oh, repeating myself. Sometimes this is how it feels to talk to my daughter but I have to. I have to tell her many times that it’s time to put on pants. Most kids will putter and delay the inevitable but when impulse control is an issue it can take hours. Literally. Just to get dressed. One piece of clothing at a time; “Go put on your shoes”, “Please go get your shoes”, “I know that’s a beautiful a picture you just drew when I thought you were putting on your shoes but now you really need to put on your shoes”, “You know what? You can put them on in the car.” – not the best ending but it happens.
    3. I do believe in praising a child for being able to do something that is difficult for them. I think that it builds esteem, creates a bond, and gives them incentive. I do believe in special treats and awards. However, when my daughter started saying things like “if I’m good all day at school today I can have a snack when I get home right?” and I said, “Why don’t you be good all day at school today because that’s what you’re supposed to do and it will make me happy?” I got “the look” but we did have a good day that day. Awards can be over done but I feel like praise can’t, as long as it’s genuine. Kids are smart, and if you start praising them for every little thing (“Oh my gosh you walked down the hallway and didn’t trip that’s AMAZING”) they will know it’s not sincere. Praising for things that are milestone with impulse (“I’m so proud that you were able to get dressed before breakfast today, thank you.”) I think builds that positive experience.
    4. Routines. I’ve already posted about the importance of routines but consistency is crucial when teaching impulse control. If you do (blank) than (blank) happens and you feel (blank). This statement works for good and bad instances. Consistent punishments and consistent rewards are necessary when trying to change behaviors. We have a schedule for after school: snack, play outside, come in and help set table, eat dinner, play alone, bedtime routine.
    5. Learn the beauty of physical work. Chores. Wonderful chores. Cleaning up her bedroom has little appeal (although sometimes she really gets into it). However, doing things she sees me doing like the dishes, setting the table, feeding the cat, wiping down counters and tables; are all things she likes to do on her own. It occupies her, burns some energy, and keeps her out of trouble. I am starting a chore chart soon so we will see how that goes. Also, running is a godsend. Make up reasons for them to run. I like to pretend that the swing set in the furthest corner of our yard is the safe zone. So, she has to run from there to the house several times per game.
    6. Along the same lines, games are great tools for learning a new skill. Simon Says is one of my favorites. We play inside and out. When inside I like to put down colored paper in the hallway and make her go back and forth. If she steps off the square before I say the next “Simon Says” she loses. This teaches her to wait and listen to instruction before acting.
Posted in Education, Family, literature, Opinion, parenting, reading, summer, teaching, teen, toddlers, Uncategorized

Woodland Adventure Handbook

Review: Woodland Adventure Handbook by Adam Dove is a book I reviewed for work that I thought some of my readers might like.

It’s a little handbook about family activities to do in the woods. Adam Dove using ideals from UK “forest schools” and makes them approachable for parents and teachers. Learning through play is not a new idea by any means but it is becoming increasingly popular. TInkergarten, Montessori, and others have grown in the last decade. Why? I think the standards and pressures for what children are supposed to know when has become almost excessive. Parents are trying to find alternative ways of teaching that don’t require young children to sit at a desk 8 hours a day.
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Each section has a story, followed by how to set up for the upcoming activities, then games and things to create that go with the story. At the end is a wrap up of what was learned.

For example, section 5 is called “Magic potions and wizards’ power wands”. The story at the beginning is just explaining the ingredients needed to create the potion that can only be used to help others. It says to follow stick arrows and footprints. So, before you go out in the woods with your children you make stick arrows and footprints that lead to the things they need. They follow it, create potions, craft wands, and play a game.

It’s a really cute book with some new ideas for any parent wanting to do more outside and get more involved with your child’s education. I would think the target age range could be anywhere from 3 to 7. Possibly a little older if you make it more elusive for them.

Posted in Education, Library, literature, Opinion, Poetry, reading, teaching, Uncategorized

Thunderstorm poetry, the best of

I’ve said it before, I’m not a huge poetry fan, but there are some that really stick to me and I just keep rereading over and over. I did a post about “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowing Evening” awhile back and I think nature poems can just move you in a way that a story can’t. I saw this post and wanted to share it.

 

The best poems about storms Weather is a perennial theme of poetry, and not just nice weather: more violent and extreme weather, such as storms, thunder, and lightning, has produced some classic poems, as this list of the best storm poems aims to highlight. Sir Thomas Wyatt, ‘Innocentia Veritas Viat Fides Circumdederunt me inimici mei’. […]

via 10 of the Best Poems about Thunderstorms — Interesting Literature

Posted in Family, Mother's Day, parenting, Social Change, teaching, toddlers, Uncategorized

“Oh Fudge”…only she didn’t say fudge

oh fudge

My daughter is…spirited. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, she’s spirited to the point I sometimes wonder just how she doesn’t explode violently from all the energy flowing in such a small little body. Spirited, anxious, defiant, silly, hyper, restless, intelligent, on and on. All of these things I have known for awhile and I have always (for the most part) watched my mouth around little miss spirit because she is a parrot like no other. So, it was a great surprise when we were getting ready for school one morning and I say;

“Hey Geegee, what are you doing?”

*she’s around the corner so I can only half see her

“Putting my f*****g boots on.”

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“Um, you’re what?”

“Um, putting my f*****g boots on?”

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Yes, it was almost cute but it was more horrifying. Seeing that pretty little face scrunch up and say the dirtiest of dirties right to my face!

Well naturally I was totally calm and cool about it.

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But after, I tried to recap and figure out how to end this cycle of bad language.

To be clear- this is not the first curse word my angel has uttered nor am I that delusional that it will be the last. However, I do think there’s plenty of little tips to keep you from becoming the parent of an Italian mobster.

Ignore it

This was the first advice I was ever given. My daughter’s first word of choice is the “s” word. And she uses it correctly. If she drops something she’ll go “oh s***”. Of course I told her no the first few times, then I tried ignoring it like was recommended. However, in our case when I ignored her she just repeated it, and repeated it, and got closer to me and said it again. How can you can you just not discipline that?

I do agree however, that exploding, or going overboard over something as simple as boundary and language testing (because to me that’s all it is) is a little much and probably doing the opposite of what you want. Letting the child know, “I heard what you said, I don’t like it, and I will now be ignoring you until you apologize or find a better word to use”, has been MUCH more helpful. So now it usually goes;

“Oh s***.”

“I don’t like that language, please say something else.”

“Oh my gravy?”

“Perfect.”

Monitor Language Learned

As I mentioned in World War Mommy, I’m not all about helicopter parenting. Kids are going to hear things and see things that you wish they wouldn’t. I don’t think hiding it is the right way to go. On the same note I don’t think Game of Thrones is a family night show either (sorry GOT, love you dearly). One study I read showed that despite our efforts, “between the ages of one and two, Dr. Jay found boys knew an average of six taboo words, and girls eight.”

There’s a limit to the amount of exposure you should agree is okay. Keeping really violent and seedy things off of the tv and tablets is a great start. Listen to what your child is saying too, a lot of times I hear a certain a child’s name associated with a new choice word. I haven’t had to talk to that child’s parent or anything yet but at least I know there’s an accomplice.oh fudge 2

Encourage Clean Humor

I think majority of kids think they are funny. Not all of them are, the little dears, but they try. A lot of language play is an attempt at humor to make you laugh and pay attention to them. Instead of blowing up over a dirty word, encourage some clean jokes. “Guess what, chicken butt” is one in particular I hear daily.

Anger vs Angry

My daughter struggles with her anger, as do a lot of young children. It’s an intense emotion for anyone. We are learning that it’s okay to be angry, it’s not okay to release anger. The difference being how you actually respond to those emotions.

We are now learning how to walk away from an anger evoking situation. When I tell her we can’t watch something because it’s too late or we can’t go outside I’m about to feed her brother, she is learning to walk away (usually to her room or playroom) and start to read or do something to take her mind off of it. After having a small fit of course. The fit is good though as long as she’s releasing her frustration safely.

Learning how to verbally express feelings will diminish the need for foul language in an aggressive way.

Check Yo Self

Don’t curse in front of your kids! I figured that’s a given but after some of the instances I’ve seen, it’s definitely not. I’m not going to say it hasn’t slipped out, it’s just bound to happen at some point. If your child calls you out on it (I think most will) then scorn yourself, don’t give them the old ‘I’m the grown up I’m allowed’ routine. Kids are smarter than that.

I have had to fess up and say “you are right, mommy should not have said that. What I should have said is “why is this lovely gentleman in front of us on the highway going so slow, I’m sure he has good reason”.”

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