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Old 11-05-2012, 07:44 AM   #11
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Re: handling awkward toddler comments in public?

I try to just talk to them about it and not make a big deal about it in front of them, otherwise I worry they'll think it IS funny and then keep doing it.

The absolute WORST situations EVER are when my kids see mentally challenged people. I have a really difficult time knowing how to explain that to them, and, of course they aren't polite or tactful with their questions, so it only makes me feel ten times worse.

My DD asked a woman once, "Why do you talk that way?!" The woman can speak but her speech is difficult to understand. She also walks with a limp and has poor muscle control in her neck. Which made DD ask, "why do you walk funny?" Although she has full mental abilities, she just can't move/speak like "normal" and DD was genuinely curious.

It just kills me to think that she could be hurting their feelings, and TBH, I have no idea how to "correctly" explain that. Some ppl are seriously offended by words like "normal" "handicapped" "different" etc. and those are words I would use to try to describe it to my DD. So that leaves me totally baffled with how to even go about doing it. UGH. HATE those moments. But I also wish I could be better at teaching her.

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Old 11-05-2012, 08:26 AM   #12
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Re: handling awkward toddler comments in public?

My dad has 1 hand, his other was amputated when I was very little. He's always handled it very gracefully with kids. They ask and sometimes he'll interrupt the parents and explain what happened.

My dad was electrocuted and he'll ask kids "Does your Mom or Dad tell you not to put stuff in the plug ins at home?" and they'll always say "Yes." and he'll say "Well I used to work with electricity and I got hurt very badly because electricity can be very dangerous. You be sure to listen to your mom and stay away from outlets." It might be overstepping but the parents usually say thank you...sometimes the kids will ask questions "Does it hurt?" "Well it did when it happened but it doesn't anymore." "Can you pinch things with that hook?" "Yes, give me your finger." and he'll lightly pinch it (never hurts, he does it to my kids all the time, they get a kick out of it). He tells them his hook lets him pick things up and helps him.

Anyway, I try to play it off or say something along the lines of "Yes, that man has scars on his face. He was probably in an accident. But remember, we don't point out peoples differences, it's rude. See how he's the same as Daddy/Grandpa/Uncle Bob? He has blonde hair just like Uncle B."

My youngest has taken to asking for Snickers when we're in Wal-Mart only because he's 2 he doesn't quite say it correctly...he leaves off the S and for some reason the CK sound sounds more like a G sound. That's a little embarrassing...
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Old 11-05-2012, 10:39 AM   #13
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Re: handling awkward toddler comments in public?

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It just kills me to think that she could be hurting their feelings, and TBH, I have no idea how to "correctly" explain that. Some ppl are seriously offended by words like "normal" "handicapped" "different" etc. and those are words I would use to try to describe it to my DD. So that leaves me totally baffled with how to even go about doing it. UGH. HATE those moments. But I also wish I could be better at teaching her.
Different isn't really offensive unless you use it in an offensive way. I would just explain that everyone is different. I would start with something simple like skin or eye color differences and then move forward with her brain/body or whatever works differently then yours and end with a positive spin on the other person's difference.

The only innocuous term I am offended by that most people don't think about is "What is wrong with him?" By someone using the word 'wrong' they imply my ds's differences are not acceptable and to me that is offensive but even then I tend to brush it off and ignore the unintended insult unless someone is really obnoxious and even then since my son is only 8 years old himself I usually wind up leaving quickly because I don't want him to see mommy get into it with a stranger.

Honestly, I only tend to really get in a snit over words is with reporters. As experienced word smiths I hold them to higher standard and expect them to be more thoughtful then the general public when representing the community with disabilities in print.
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Old 11-05-2012, 10:54 AM   #14
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Re: handling awkward toddler comments in public?

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My 2 year old love to say "that lady has a baby in her belly" very loudly on a regular basis. She hasnt been right once and it embarasses the crud out of me!
Oh man!! That's not funny at all, but hilarious at the same time!!
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Old 11-05-2012, 11:51 AM   #15
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Re: handling awkward toddler comments in public?

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Later, we were in a clothing store, and he saw a woman with an eye patch. Hollered "PIRATE!" As loudly as he could. Not so pleasant (the lady was not thrilled).
LOL! When DS was little he met one of my distant cousins. My cousin had a tooth missing in front; DS turned to me with this overjoyed smile and said "He looks like a pirate!" Luckily my cousin laughed.

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The absolute WORST situations EVER are when my kids see mentally challenged people. I have a really difficult time knowing how to explain that to them, and, of course they aren't polite or tactful with their questions, so it only makes me feel ten times worse.
I've talked with my kids about this, because there were children with various disabilities at the daycare they went to. They had a lot of questions about one little boy in particular. The thing that helped them "get it" was to talk about how sometimes part of someone's body doesn't work quite right, like how their cousin gets severe asthma attacks because sometimes his body has a hard time breathing. I told them that the brain is part of the body, and if part of the brain doesn't work quite right it can make it hard for that person to do some things that other people can do. Not a perfect explanation by any means, but it satisfied them.
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Old 11-05-2012, 12:12 PM   #16
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Re: handling awkward toddler comments in public?

An ounce of prevention, if you have the oppurtunity goes a long way toward preventing things like this. Kids are blunt, and sometimes they do shout it out anyway, but if they have been exposed to things or have experience in that area, they usually do a little better. My aunt has spina bifida. She uses forearm crutches and has some medical issues. The kids are used to being around her and we have talked about people's differing abilities so they usually know to wait and ask me a bit later so we don't hurt anyone's feelings.

Another awful parenting moment....there is almost no racial diversity here....so when my BIL saw an african american for the first time in a store he shouted "Look! A monkey!" I think he was two. What do you say after that?!?
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Old 11-05-2012, 01:21 PM   #17
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Re: handling awkward toddler comments in public?

Fwiw, I think it's ALWAYS more embarrassing for the parents than the subject of the kids' surprise. Granted, I'm able-bodied, so I could be underestimating the hurt and offence, but IME, grown people don't mind when children aren't tactful.

I think it might be a more delicate situation when the person with a disability/weight issue/cosmetic irregularity is another child.
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Old 11-05-2012, 01:27 PM   #18
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Re: handling awkward toddler comments in public?

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I've talked with my kids about this, because there were children with various disabilities at the daycare they went to. They had a lot of questions about one little boy in particular. The thing that helped them "get it" was to talk about how sometimes part of someone's body doesn't work quite right, like how their cousin gets severe asthma attacks because sometimes his body has a hard time breathing. I told them that the brain is part of the body, and if part of the brain doesn't work quite right it can make it hard for that person to do some things that other people can do. Not a perfect explanation by any means, but it satisfied them.
This is how I explained it after we got home. And I stressed that if you talk about someone you can really hurt their feelings b/c it could be something they are embarrassed about.

Problem is, now they say, "aw, that person's brain doesn't work right mommy. " Somehow that is just so much worse sounding than "what happened?" ZOMG

FAIL.

I'm biding my time until they are like 6 or 7. LOL

DD is almost 6 and she is starting to pick up really well on social queues, but now DS is becoming more aware of differences and he is totally NOT aware of social queues. By the time he is 6, my YDD will be turning 3 or 4, and we will start over again. And then when YDD is 6, YDS will be 4.

I foresee many years yet of awkward moments
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Old 11-05-2012, 02:30 PM   #19
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My friends husband lost both his legs in a roadside bomb, he wears prosthetics. When my son met him for the first time when he was about 3 it was winter and friends husband was wearing shorts. My son looked up at me with the widest eyes I have ever seen and said "mom he's a robot"
My friends husband laughed so hard and to this day he jokes with kids explaining that since he was in an accident and his human legs didn't work anymore a doctor decided to give him robot legs.
My daughter called ever small Asian girl by her own name for a good 6 months when she was 18mos-2years. I had to explain that yes they had the same hair color, eye color etc as her but they were different children

My kids have commented on birthmarks in similar ways as you dd, my dd always thought they were hurt and would often be concerned saying "owie" over and over. I would explain that it wasn't an owie just a birthmark, I find if you are calm and honest then children will see that it really isn't a big deal.
Avoiding or lying to children teaches them that differences aren't to be discussed and I don't agree with that.
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Old 11-05-2012, 02:49 PM   #20
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Re: handling awkward toddler comments in public?

This is related but different, but please indulge me. When I was about 2, this must have been around 1973, we crossed the road every morning at the same time as a peace loving hippie with his long hair and beard. Apparently I piped up one day with: "Mommy is that Jesus?" My mother, of course, apologized and rushed me away with harsh words of how I should behave etc. The next day, however, he was clean shaven and his hair was cut!

I was in a tricky situation with DSD who commented on an amputee. I tried to explain by saying he might have been in an accident or something. He turned around and explained that he was an Iraqi vet. So, I explained later to her in more detail. I still feel bad about that day because I wish I had rather spoken to the guy, rather than about him. I think if I said: Excuse me sir, do you mind explaining to my daughter... etc. I mean, if they heard it already, what more is there to try and hide? I think he was more offended that I spoke about him rather than to him.
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