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You are here: Home > Toddlers > Parenting

Kids Say the Darndest Things: How to Handle Public Embarrassment

by Katlyn Joy
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You know you probably had it coming from something you did to embarrass your own parents. Call it karma, your payback or whatever you like, but if you have kids, you will have plenty of red-faced moments.

Sometimes it starts even before a child can talk. Jameel remembers when his son was several months old and still breastfeeding. His friend's wife came over for dinner one night wearing a rather low cut dress and showing a bit of cleavage. His infant son reached right out and began his suckling sounds and face. They all had a good laugh, but not without some blushing involved.

Kids are blunt, honest and have impeccable timing. Because there is so little warning, there is little you can do to prevent such humbling moments.

Once Kate was out with her toddler daughter, Hallie, when her daughter pointed and gasped. "Mommy, that man is going to have a baby!"

Hallie had recently become obsessed with new babies and when a very over weight man walked into the restaurant her daughter was extremely intrigued and unfortunately quite loud. "I wanted to disappear! I snatched her up in my arms and made a speedy exit."

While there is little you can do, as these moments are always part of the parenting package, you can try to minimize the embarrassment.

1. Teach your child about indoor voices. While it won't stop unfortunate remarks, it will make them less likely to be overhead. Practice this quiet voice by playing echo games with your child, or make up a loud and quiet game.

2. Instruct your child not to point at people. Even toddlers can learn some basic manners including this basic one. Expect to remind them of it often, however. It's key that you be consistent in reminding them about the polite rules however.

3. Never underestimate the importance of knowing the quickest exit in any place. Just like Kate found out, there are moments when you wish the ground would open and swallow you, but as second best options, exits are wonderful. Some moments cannot be redeemed. For those times, getting the heck outta dodge will do.

4. Talk about differences when it's safe and private. Discuss things like appearances, race, different types of hair or make up, weight and so on at a time when you don't have to use a real life model to explain. Books, tv programs and just random kid questions will give you plenty of opportunities for these discussions. Explain how to be respectful of people's differences.

5. Talk to kids about private words. Everyone is delighted when their toddler announces, "Mommy, I have to poop!" during potty training. When it's a four-year old it's less exciting and way less cute. Explain to your children they needn't announce to everyone in your check out lane that they just passed gas. Or worse, that you just did.

6. Explain to kids about private information. You will have a moment, often a parent teach conference when you realize your child is a budding gossip columnist. This is when you find out as well that those times when you were talking about your uncle's drinking problem with your cousin, little Billy wasn't just watching tv. He was listening and getting half the facts right and then going around telling the fractured family tales.

7. Be careful what little eyes see and little ears hear. If the idea of sweet Leah spilling f-bombs at the PTA picnic is bone chilling to you, then be dutiful that she never hears it especially from people she models her behavior upon. Especially her family members. Also, watch out for what programs your child may see or hear. They are fabulous mimics and will choose the most embarrassing moment to share their new vocabulary.

8. Be wary of your little one hanging out with older kids. While it can be a good thing, you do need to oversee how they spend their time. You may start seeing tween behavior in your toddler and that's a disturbing view.

9. Learn the art of distraction. If you sense your child is about to say something or do something that will humiliate you and all your ancestors, never underestimate the power of switching gears.

10. Learn to smile and shrug. There are times when there is little else you can do. And rest assured, either the people who may be offended or shocked will be in your shoes someday.


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