Throwback Thursday: Parenting Fail

Dateline: March 28, 2012

The Five-Year-Old, under her breathe: “[mild expletive, mild expletive], our phone is broken. [mild expletive, mild expletive].”

I knew the day when The Five-Year-Old started using that particular expletive was bound to come. Still, I wasn’t at all prepared for it. I’m a bit too fond of using that particular expletive myself, and telling The Five-Year-Old she can’t do something when I’m likely to do it myself in the next 10 minutes seemed problematic.

Still, I decided I had better try to rein her language in. A few weeks ago, my brother sent me an interesting link on a positive disciplinary technique that tries to resolve issues not by simply punishing the behavior but by changing the belief motivating the behavior. So I gave it a try.

Mommyo: “The Five-Year-Old, why are you saying that?”

The Five-Year-Old: “Because the phone is broken.”

Mommyo: “And is it really helping to say that?”

The Five-Year-Old: “A little bit.”

So much for that.

Update from March 2017: Nowadays, The Nine-Year-Old’s preferred way to vent her frustration is to say simply “curses and foul language.” I wish I could claim that our more advanced parenting methods had anything to do with it, but really she just read it in a book somewhere and thought it was funny, so she started using it. 

About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at, chatting about books and the writing life at, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
This entry was posted in Funny Stuff My Daughter Says, Miscellaneous Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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