Teaching Your Children About the Ills of Gossiping
You can begin teacher your children good values at any age. It is likely that your children may fall victim to malicious gossip at some point in their lives. Either someone may influence them to gossip about someone else, or they may be the one spreading the gossip. You must step in and let your children know about the serious consequences of gossiping. Your children should learn about gossip from you, not their peers. Preparing your children for a situation before it occurs helps to control gossip because they already know the dangers of gossip. Talking to your children and offering real-life examples are the best ways to teach them about gossip.
What is Gossip?
Gossip is conversation pertaining to personal matters of someone else’s life, whether fact or rumor, especially when the conversations are malicious. Anyone can easily fall victim to gossiping. For example, if your child decides to tell a close friend about details of a personal matter, and your child’s friend discusses the details of the conversation with other children, gossiping has taken place. Another example is if your child’s friend changes the details of the conversation immensely, creating a negative version of the actual events.
If children would only place themselves in someone else’s shoes they would know how harmful gossiping is—especially when on the receiving end of gossip. Children gossip for various reasons. It is important that you and your child understand the reasoning behind gossiping. Children gossip for the following reasons:
- They need to feel superior. Many kids like the feeling of initiating gossip about others. They want others to see them as superior.
- They want to gain attention. Not all children have high self-esteem. They feel that the only way that they can gain attention from others is to expose the personal matters of others.
- They are jealous of others. It is common for anyone to feel jealous of others, but when you say hurtful words about others in order to feel good about yourself, the results may be harmful to the other people.
- They just enjoy gossiping. Yes, there are children who just enjoy discussing the personal matters of others. When the discussion of personal matters turns negative, gossiping can be very harmful.
- They want to fit into a certain group. Children want to feel as though they are a part of something. It is easy for children to fall into the trap of gossiping when their friends are doing the same thing.
- They want to gain control of others. Some children want to have control of ever situation. They may say harmful words about others because they are not happy with their lives.
- They may gossip for revenge. Children can say some of the cruelest words imaginable. Children may spread gossip about another child even for the smallest disagreement.
Why You Need to Teach Kids about the Harms of Gossiping
It is important that children know about gossiping because it can do so much harm. Some of the things that children say about other children can potentially be damaging to their image and self-esteem, and in some cases, gossiping can cause physical harm. If one child makes up a story about another child’s desire to inflict physical harm on him, the result could be a brutal fight in which one or both children suffers physical harm. Gossiping about others can lead to the following:
- Tarnished self-esteem
- Physical Harm
- Irreparable friendships
These are just a few of the harmful aspects of gossiping that you can share with your children. You cannot get inside of someone’s head and understand how that person will handle being the subject of gossip.
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How to Teach Kids about Gossiping
You can teach your children to respect the personal matters of others. Instill your wonderful morals and values into your children to teach them about the ills of gossiping. The following are ways to teach your kids about gossiping:
- Teach by example. Make sure that you are providing a good example to your children. Make sure that you are not doing the following in the presence of your children:
- Gossiping about a coworker
- Speaking negatively about a family member
- Discussing secrets that someone has trusted you with
- Speaking negatively about your significant other
Do not speak negatively about anyone in the presence of your children. If you gossip around them, they may thing that it is okay for them to gossip too.
- Teach them strategies to prevent gossip. Gossip can be prevented if your children stands up to the perpetrator by letting them know that gossiping is wrong. If your children do not entertain the gossip, the perpetrator has no choice but to move on to others or stop gossiping. Teach them to use phrases such as:
- “It is not right to talk negatively about others.”
- “I am going to walk away if you continue to say bad things about________.”
- “How would you like it if someone said those things about you?”
- “I don’t feel comfortable saying bad thing about _______.”
- Play the gossiping game with your children. This is an easy game to play. Use all of the members of your family for this game. You need to form a line with all of your family members. You will whisper gossip in the ear of the first person, and that personal will whisper the gossip into the ear of the next person until the gossip makes its way to the last person. Ask the last person to tell the gossip to the entire group. The gossip probably changes with each exchange. Compare the results of the game to real gossiping as a way to teach about the harms of gossip.
- Use televisions show to teach about the ills of gossiping. The television is full of examples of gossip and the negative impacts. You can use these examples to explain how harmful gossiping is and offer alternative ways to prevent the spread of gossip. Teach your children ways to avoid getting entangled in gossip, such as:
- Avoiding the offender
- Changing the subject
- Pretending to be busy
- Finding something positive to say about the person who is being spoken about negatively
- Just say no to gossip
You should also discuss appropriate social media etiquette with your children. Social media sites are the center of a great deal of gossiping that takes place. Children can post harmful things about each other with the click of a mouse. Teach your children to avoid encounters that end with spreading lies and rumors about someone else. Your children should not entertain the idea of spreading gossip nor should they continue the social media friendship if gossiping occurs. You should also monitor their social media pages to make sure that gossiping is not taking place. It is always safer to stay away from gossip. Gossiping can cause serious emotion damage to others. No one wants to be the subject of gossip, so it is a good idea to end gossiping before it starts. Teach your child to be a good friend with moral character by avoiding gossip.
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