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  • Writer's pictureSteve Gamel

Don't Be Lazy: Use Proper Grammar When Talking To Your Kids

Updated: Jul 19, 2019

While picking our son, Jackson, up from school last week, my wife walked into the classroom just in time to overhear a teacher reading him the riot act.

The teacher was trying to convince Jackson to stop bringing his Hot Wheels cars to school – because, you know, smuggling five or six toy cars into school each day is such a horrible thing for a 5-year-old boy to do. But how she phrased her request was the grammatical equivalent to running nails down a chalkboard.

"Don't bring your [toy] cars to school no more," she said.

Gasp! The dreaded double negative!

Now thankfully, my wife was quick to pull Jackson aside to say, "Please don't bring your cars to school anymore. Do you understand?"

This may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but listening to that story got me thinking about how easy it is to be lazy with the way we communicate with our children. We are so lax (or informal) with everything we say to each other, whether it be face-to-face conversations or through text messages and emails that we expect everyone to know what we mean.

Use of proper grammar often goes out the window. We all do it. I've been just as guilty. My wife is constantly getting on my case about needing to use full sentences instead of neanderthal-like grunts when the kids aren't following directions.

And that's my point. While adults can get the gist of what we're trying to say (even if they are secretly laughing at us for being grammar fools), children don't.

Jackson is only 5. The situation with the teacher bothers us because children naturally learn from people closest to them as they develop, and since he's in pre-kindergarten classes, we expect those teachers to be more mindful of what they say – and how they say it.

Bad grammar ruins a good message. If we continue to be lazy with our grammar around kids, it will dramatically alter their ability to communicate clearly, avoid ambiguity, and prevent misunderstandings with others later on in life.

Here are a few ways you can avoid grammar laziness around your kids:

*Speak in full sentences. Don't use baby talk.

*Use good eye contact and be clear with your message.

*Read to your child regularly. Have them read to you. The same goes for writing.

*Correct their grammar regularly, without discouraging them.

*Don't be afraid to say something to teachers. Reinforce your expectations of them as educators. It's their job to shape young minds.

*When your child is upset, ask them to use words instead of crying or screaming. Explain to them, "How am I suppose to know what you want if you don't use your words?"

*Sit down and go over your kids' English homework with them. Who knows, it may be a good refresher for you, too.

Thanks for reading!

*STEVE GAMEL is the Owner/President of Edit This, a writing and editing services company located in Denton, TX. Along with being a sports writer for the Denton Record-Chronicle, Steve handles anything involving the written word. Give him a call today to help give your business a clear voice.

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