My son is learning bad words from a buddy at camp. What do I do?

While it is important to acknowledge and respect that your son’s friendships are his choice, you also want to make sure he is surrounded by positive influences and understands what the differences between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. You might consider telling your son that you think his friend’s behavior is not acceptable and that it is not okay to use bad words. You might also talk to the camp director or the child’s parents of the child. If you decide to talk to the child’s parents, use a constructive, positive tone to avoid eliciting a defensive response. For example, you might say something like “We are so happy that our son has found a buddy at camp he can have fun with, but we have noticed that your son sometimes using words we are not comfortable with. We’d appreciate your help in reinforcing that it is not okay to use that kind of language.” If you are respectful and kind in the way you approach the topic, you are not only more likely to get a cooperative response from the child’s parents, you are also modeling how to handle conflict in a positive way.

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

Child Development Expert

Jennie Ito is a mother of two and a child development consultant who specializes in children’s play and toys. Before becoming a consultant for LeapFrog, she was an intern at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and later worked as a content expert for the Association of Children’s Museum’s “Playing for Keeps” Play Initiative. Jennie earned her doctorate degree in developmental psychology at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.