This is fall break week for a lot of kids in Arizona. This week we’re entertaining our five year old great grandson while his mother is enjoying the break from parenthood. Mom is a single parent and can use the time off from a very active and intelligent little boy.
Somewhere in the socialization process, the “little guy” has learned to say whenever he encounters something he doesn’t know anything about or someone he’s never met, “I hate that!” He’ll say it about twenty times or more a day. We don’t think he means it or that he even understands, as a five year old, what the word “hate” really means.
Starting on his first day with us we noticed this verbal behavior. So, each time he said “hate” we’d stop him and ask him about what he meant by such a strong conviction. We’d also make him change his verbage, sometimes suggesting that he modify his language to say, “I don’t think I like that” or “that’s not what I like.” Forcing him to drop the “I hate” line.
We suspect that his overworked and harried mother or his teachers just don’t have the time to correct him or didn’t even notice his speech pattern. But, we did, and we were determined to change his contempt for things he didn’t even know about. And, you know what, he’s not saying he “hates” things after just four or five days together.
This is all antecdotal to a belief and a theory that children learn behavior at an early age, such as hatred, and carry it over into adulthood. Will our “little guy” grow up with a greater sense of tolerance? Who knows? We surely hope so. Still, if everyone in the “village” would take the time to talk to children about what they are saying and expressing, the next generation might talk down hatred and all of its ugly consequences. Time will tell!