Experience taught me that the easiest and most effective way to influence my children was to ignore negative behaviour and to praise good behaviour.
Often if I didn’t react to swear words for example, my children soon forgot about them because our family didn’t usually swear. ( shut up was banned but does mother saying, “Shit” count?
We had few other kid who lived near because we lived in the sparsely populated Greenbelt which surrounds Ottawa, Canada even before we moved out to our seven acres. However there were three older boys who lived downs the road.
Our hockey net attracted the boys at first; they would come over and play road hockey right in front of our house with our older children . Actually everybody was eleven and under back then. David, my fourth, was only five but he was the designated goalie, sporting adult sized pads which almost completely immobilized him. David was thrilled to be included in the road hockey game, even if it meant enduring hockey pucks that relentlessly slammed into his pads.
The hockey scrimmage was the highlight of the day. After dinner, I’d help everyone bundle up against the cold because even our youngest children refused to be left out of the excitement. They could only waddle outside; scarves wound around their faces and foreheads so that I could only see their twinkly eyes
The older boys apparently did not curb their language out there. I discovered this one evening while tucking three-year old Emily in bed. She had just had a bath, her hair was curling softly around her face and she was in a soft blue sleeper with her thumb in her mouth but she was mad. Rachel, her little sister was still up because she had a long nap that day.
As I started closing the door, Emily took out her thumb and yelled,
“Close the fucking door you stupid bitch!!!!”
My mouth dropped open and I slowly closed the door without saying a word. I went down the hall in a bit of a daze and slowly said to Michael,
“Do you want to know what Emily just said to me?…”.
I didn’t mention anything to Emily and she never repeated those three swear words again.