How to Stop Children from Gossiping
Has your child been devastated by a vicious lie that came straight from the rumor mill? Children start learning the concept of gossip earlier than most parents anticipate. By the age of eight or nine, children have already been exposed to the concept of malicious gossip and speculative lies.
Parents sometimes feel lost on how to prevent their kids from falling prey to such a prominent pastime. Children are drawn into the drama their friends provide. Perhaps even worse, your child may be guilty of starting the gossip in the first place.
Talking about others behind their backs is an important topic that parents need to nip early. Keeping your child focused on telling the truth and saying positive things about others can be easier said than done though. You may want to consider following some of these prominent tips for teaching your child that gossip is wrong.
Set an example.
Children primarily learn by watching what the people around them do. Parents have the potential to be a child’s biggest role model. According to some experts, modeling good behavior may be the most effective way to eliminate gossip. It may be time for you to evaluate how much time you spend complaining or gossiping with your friends. Particularly when your child is within earshot, monitor the things you say about others closely.
Set an example by speaking only positive words about other people. Children are likely to pick up on this habit, which can increase their positive social interactions.
Talk to your child about choosing friends wisely.
Your child may still need some guidance when it comes to choosing good friends. Talk about what makes someone a good friend. One of the key considerations should be whether that child is nice to other people. Ask your child how they would feel if they were on the receiving end of hurtful comments. Would they really want to be friends with that person?
You may need to gently guide your child through the process of choosing friends that don’t gossip or say hurtful things about others. This is another behavior that can easily be modeled by parents.
Ask your child to consider the feelings of others.
Depending on the age of your child, they should have a pretty good grasp on understanding the emotions of their peers. Parents may walk their children through the process of deciding whether their feelings would be hurt in a given situation. Experts recommend roleplaying a few gossip scenarios to get children thinking about the implications of their words.
This may also be a good time to ask your child to consider how a friend would feel if she shared their secrets. How would your child feel if someone shared her secrets? Helping your child to consider the viewpoints of others is an essential social skill that they need help to fully develop. They may need a few more years to truly develop respect for someone else’s privacy.
Gossiping can be a particularly nasty habit that worsens over long periods of time. Parents should make every effort to monitor their children’s friendships carefully. They may be able to put a stop to this behavior early on with some of these relatively minor interventions.