5 Things You Should Do When Child Says Something Embarrassing

All kids say something embarrassing at one time or another.
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At one time or another, your child is going to say something that will make you want to crawl under a rock. Whether your child points at someone and says something rude, or he announces something that happened in the privacy of your home, most kids say something socially inappropriate at one time or another.

Here are a few examples of embarrassing things kids say:

  • Mommy, look at how big that lady’s tummy is!
  • That man’s hair is really funny.
  • When you call our house, Mom says, “Oh no! Don’t answer it.”
  • That lady looks like a witch.
  • Mom, why is that person dressed like that?
  • Is that person a boy or a girl?

No matter what type of embarrassing thing your child says, the way you respond makes a big difference. Here are five helpful ways to respond the next time your child says something embarrassing:

1. Stay Calm

Yelling or panicking will only make the situation worse. It will draw more attention to the issue and likely embarrass your child. So no matter how embarrassed you may feel, stay calm.

2. Apologize When Necessary

When your child’s comments hurt someone else’s feelings, apologize. Say, “I’m so sorry my child just said that. That comment was really inappropriate.” Avoid making further comments or going on and on about what your child said as it may make the situation worse. Instead, keep your apology brief and matter-of-fact.

Don’t force your child to apologize. It’s likely your child had no idea that what she said was inappropriate. Forcing her to say sorry may only make the situation more embarrassing for the other person.

3. Turn it Into a Teachable Moment

Remember that toddlers and young preschoolers are just doing what they’re supposed to do - observe the world around them.

Your child might not yet have the cognitive ability to understand why it’s appropriate to say, “That cow says moo!” but not acceptable to point out, “That man looks funny,”

Use each experience as an opportunity to teach your child. Create concrete rules, such as “No pointing at people,” and help your child begin to understand complex social skills. With younger children, it may be appropriate to say, “If you’re going to tell me what people are doing, whisper it in my ear.”

4. Teach Your Child Empathy

Before children can understand how someone else is feeling, they need to have a good understanding of their own emotions. Although it can be a complex issue, young children are capable of developing empathy when they’re given the right tools.

Begin teaching your child about feelings at a young age. Start conversations about how other people may feel in certain situations. Pause when you’re reading a book to ask how a character might be feeling or take time to point out real life examples when people are likely specific certain emotions.

The more your child learns about empathy, the more likely he’ll be to think twice before saying something that may hurt someone’s feelings.

5. Monitor What You Say in Front of Your Child

Whether it’s a swear word, or a not-so-nice comment about your mother-in-law, children soak up everything they hear. Even when you think they aren’t listening, many of them seem to overhear what’s being said. So it’s best not to say anything in front of a young child unless you’re OK with that information being repeated.

As your child matures, you can start having conversations about what types of issues should remain private. But until then, be prepared for your child to announce some potentially embarrassing things.

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