Kids can be embarrassing, especially when horrible things come from their sweet little mouths. It’s not always intentional; kids are curious and ask questions. They think about it, and then they say it. They don’t have what you could call a filter. And there isn’t a parent alive who hasn’t looked on in horror when their kid says something totally embarrassing, and they must jump in and do damage control.
My husband was with our sons once, and one of them pointed at a man with a prosthetic leg and loudly asked, “Yikes! What happened to you?” My husband was at a loss for words. He scrambled and profusely apologized for the comment that embarrassed him tremendously and could have been super hurtful. Thankfully, the man had a pretty spunky personality and made a joke out of the whole thing. He told them it was no big deal and that it wasn’t the first, nor would it be the last time a kid commented on his leg. And while the situation turned out okay, not everyone reacts the same way when kids say something embarrassing.
Many adults – unfortunately, not all — are reasonably good at thinking before they speak. Kids, on the other hand, are unpredictable. As parents, we must prepare for what we aren’t prepared for. Knowing what to do and how to react when our kids say something embarrassing is critical.
What To Do When Your Kid Says Something Embarrassing
Here are some tips for handling it when your kid says something embarrassing.
Address the Issue Quickly When Your Kid Says Something Embarrassing
Most of us would probably say there are some things that we don’t ask. Like when a lady never discussed her age, questioning was discouraged. Since the dawn of time, and still today, most of us know we shouldn’t ask a woman if she is pregnant or comment on anyone’s body. Not only is it rude, but it can also be hurtful. Kids, especially little ones, may not realize that and say something unintentionally embarrassing. Parents should address embarrassing comments or questions as quickly as possible.
Speak Kindly to the Child
Parents shouldn’t pretend it didn’t happen when a kid says something embarrassing. A child won’t know they have said something they shouldn’t have if it isn’t addressed immediately. Gently pulling a child aside and explaining why their comment is inappropriate is better than scolding and potentially embarrassing the child.
Don’t Laugh When They Say Something Embarrassing
Ugh, this one is so darn hard sometimes. Kids say hilarious stuff. But if what they say is not only embarrassing but insulting or socially unacceptable, parents need to call them on it. If we correct kids for saying something embarrassing but are laughing, it can send mixed signals. As tough as it may be, stay strong and hold your giggles for later.
Make Sure There is an Apology
This can sometimes be tough. If a child feels bad, they may be embarrassed to face the person and say sorry. But it is always important for kids to acknowledge when they have hurt someone and to let them know they are sorry and won’t do it again. Sure, it may be a forced apology, we’ve all seen those, but kids need to learn to say they’re sorry young to help develop empathy as they grow older.
Create a Teaching Moment
Should we compare our kids or point out their deficiencies? No way! But using these situations when they say something embarrassing as a teaching moment for other children is okay. It isn’t necessary to call out the child who said something embarrassing, but making a general statement about not hurting feelings and keeping comments to yourself is not inappropriate. If it’s said with kindness and not to point fingers, everyone can learn from it.
This isn’t a tip for young kids who don’t know what they are doing, but if a child is older and says something intentionally hurtful or embarrassing, they need to be called on it. Acting up and being mean-spirited should mean a parent doles out some punishment. This will vary from family to family, but removing things like screen time or doling out extra chores might not be a bad idea.
Love Your Kids Even When They Say Something Embarrassing
Above all, let them know that even when they say things they probably shouldn’t, you still love them. That is what is most important. Yes, kids need to learn to make better choices, but making them feel guilty and embarrassed is not the way to do it. If a child makes a sincere apology and promises not to repeat it, the offended will feel better about it too, and will most likely accept an apology.
Kids will be kids. As parents, it’s our job to turn them into good humans. No one said it was easy, but it’s essential. If you have a child, be prepared for some flushed cheeks because your kid will say something that embarrasses you. There is no avoiding it. But if you do your best to help them to make better choices and to think before they speak, you can prevent some uncomfortable situations.