It came to me the other night. I have a fear of the word naughty.
What on earth? You may be thinking. Let me explain.
When Ethan and his peers from my antenatal group started to become more than "babies" (by that I mean started crawling/walking/talking/getting up to mischief) the naughty word started to be bandied around. Hour long conversations could be held just around this one word (of course, they were probably that long because any parent knows that you cannot have a simple conversation as normal due to a child hanging from your neck or having to run out into the driveway because, darn it, they've escaped again and you need to rescue them from oncoming traffic mid conversation).
The main theme seems to be that you cannot, or at least should not EVER tell your child s/he is naughty. You can tell them what they have done is naughty, but not that they themselves are.
Now, before I go any further, let me say that I agree with that. I do. It's hard in practice though!
Like most, I was brought up by parents who definitely did on occasion tell me I was naughty. Did it have a great affect on me? Probably not.. I wasn't really a child who misbehaved very often, so perhaps this is because I wouldn't have heard it very much, so maybe it didn't effect my psyche. Perhaps if you were a child who got yourself into mischief regularly (deliberately or not!) then maybe you would've started to believe you were inherently naughty... because that's what this theory is getting at, isn't it! That we are telling them they are naughty.. i.e. bad. Who wants to believe that about themselves? (Maybe Jafar in Aladin.. I think that's pretty much his aim in life..).
Perhaps it's just another piece of information for us parents to beat ourselves with. I try so hard never to refer to Ethan as naughty, never to say he is naughty. Always "Ethan, no, that was a naughty thing to do" not "Ethan you are naughty". I worry it will slip out though. Or I'll get the words in the wrong order.. and then that'll be it. Damage done.
Of course, more often, I am rational. Even if I did once or twice tell him he was naughty, due to the rest of our time together being happy, supportive, stimulating and fun then hopefully it would have no lasting effect.
The seed of doubt is always there though, isn't it!
Have you noticed how many books and children's TV programs mention "naughty" characters? Many stories I read to Ethan have lines like "you are naughty" in them. I find myself editing the stories as I read them to Ethan. Omitting and changing lines. I don't want him to think about characters in books who he loves as naughty.. I don't mind him understanding a certain behaviour is naughty. Am I the only one doing this? Please tell me not!
I'm sure I can't be the only parent out there with this concern over the word naughty...