Teach Your Children Well, Then Learn from the Little Buggers

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"I just don't know why I say 'free' so weird. I've been trying and trying but I just can't..... so I've been trying to just not say it when I'm at school but sometimes in math class I forget and then they say stuff and it just makes me feel so bad."

My delightful, happy, thrilled-to-be-a-big-schoolboy-like-his-brothers son had finally spilled why he'd been so emotional- classmates had been teasing him over his inability to pronounce words with the 'th' sound.

Speech delays of this sort are common, at least that's what I'd been assured by speech therapists. Rather than being concerned, I found it charming to be wished a "Happy Mudder's Day!" for one more year. Little Scott is the youngest and unlike his free older brothers would still hold my hand in public, check the wedder outside every morning so we'd all dress appropriately and keeps me updated on important things like his fadder's Christmas shopping progress.

I fully expect the "th" to ushered in with the arrival of permanent teeth and exit of the last of the baby fat, much like the way "train" suddenly replaced "woo-woo" from his vocabulary on one significant, yet completely unremarkable day. What I hadn't expected were some ill-mannered, snot-nosed, jerk face classmates to make my child so self-conscious about these adorable speech mannerisms that he actually tried NOT TO SAY THE NUMBER THREE WHILE IN SCHOOL. After cleaning up the thousand pieces of my heart that had splintered off and exploded on the floor after hearing this admission, I spent the rest of the evening stewing on how best to handle the situation.

Morning's light dawned and I still had no clear plan when it came time to take my th-challenged first grader and his fourth grade brother to school. The most do-able scenario involved chainsaws and a deep ravine that would remain undiscovered until the spring thaw............ but chainsaws can be pretty hard to come by in the city.

"Guys," I said looking back in the rear-view mirror, "I'm still trying to figure out the best way for Scott to handle this teasing problem. "

Without missing a beat, Michael, the 4th grader who still has to be reminded that sleeves are not napkins and has a chronic inability to find his own shoes said from the back of the van, "I think I'd use the ACT system. First I'd: A) acknowledge that I was feeling bad by the comments and, C) calm myself down in order to better deal with the situation and then, T) talk to those who were making me feel bad, making sure to use "I statements".

Errr, yeah. That's exactly what I, the mature adult in charge, had been thinking! (Except with chainsaws!)

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.