What to do if your kid often comments on someone’s appearance

At some point in your parenting journey (or multiple points for some of us!), there are these “oops” moments with our kids we experience.

There’s no hiding from them, there’s no running away from them. You need to stay strong but how you deal with it is what defines you as a parent.

Do this from the start

From using expletives inadvertently in front of kids (that they tend to pick up in no time!) commenting about others’ appearance to judging people angrily- there are so many things we see and do not realize that another pair of watchful eyes are closely monitoring us. If you hear your child commenting about somebody’s appearance, you don’t necessarily have to draw out the swords and wage a battle. Tide over the situation with patience and a bit of strategy so you don’t see this being repeated in future.

Here are 4 steps that will help:

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1. Acknowledge but don’t entertain

Children often say the darndest of things, just to get YOUR attention, most of the time. If you notice something irrelevant that is being said, it is okay to ignore. But when you hear something wrong about people’s appearance, let them know you heard it and you are not okay with it. Not everything a child utters is to be met with “aww” and “soo cute”.

2. Talk to them, but later

Later at the end of the day, revisit the conversation (chances are high your child would have forgotten it, but still) and tell them why it is not okay to judge people by their appearance. Explain to them (as per their age) why we are all different, and we need to accept people for who they are. There are so many books today that deal with the topic of diversity, empathy and kindness, written for kids. Get them and read it together with your child.

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​3. Watch what you speak

Monkey see, monkey do. Simple. When you comment about a film hero’s appearance or talk ill about the neighbour’s fashion sense, your kids are watching you and understand that it is OKAY to talk about people that way. We need to practise what we preach, if we want to help our kids learn something (and to avoid those dreaded “oops” moments).

4. Don’t take it emotionally, but use it as a teaching moment

It is important to teach the child to respect others’ feelings. And not to judge them for what they have said. Society does enough of that already. Let us spare our kids our judgements. Instead of saying “you are so mean” or “that was evil of you to talk that way!”, why not tweak it to say “I know you found that different, but that’s not acceptable” or “I am sure you didn’t mean to hurt them, but that wasn’t right”. They are like fresh clay- they need to be moulded the right way. Help them understand and you will see an ocean of change in their personality soon!

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