"If you don't have something nice to say, then don't say anything at all." Advice my mother often gave me growing up as a child, and something I often find myself saying as an adult. But what saddens me is when this has to be said to adults when they are speaking about children.
I have heard teachers "warn" other teachers about a child. I have heard parents say unkind things about a child (theirs and other's). I have heard random adults speak negatively about "today's kids". Have I ever been around kids that had lost self-control? Sure. Or felt overwhelmed by a child's behavior? Absolutely. I've even gotten angry at something a child has done. But we adults have to begin saying nice things about children. Particularly when they are driving us a bit batty. Because let's face it. We've all made mistakes and done something that may have been not so nice or not so smart. When we hear another adult speaking poorly about a child we need to stand up for that child. We need to say:
* I don't engage in negative conversations about children.
* I am uncomfortable with you discussing a child in that way.
* So, what is really spectacular about this kiddo?
* I am happy to speak with you about your child, but only your child.
* Let me tell you what I noticed (or really like) about (child).
I am not going to say that it is easy to do this. It catches people off guard. To the point where they can get angry with you. Their voice may rise an octave. They may say something cruel to you, about you. They may attempt to defend their behavior. It doesn't matter because in the end they will never again speak that way about any child in front of you. And one less unkind comment about a person, even a child, makes our world a more thoughtful place to live in.