On NBC’s Parent Toolkit… “If You Can’t Say Anything Nice… Here’s What To Say To Your Kids”

Closeup of an African American boy with his friends in background

It’s difficult to hear the phrase “Say something nice” without finishing the sentence, “or don’t say anything at all.” I caught myself muttering these words recently as I watched a scene unfold from the cover of my porch. Two kids, around 10 or 11 years old, were walking past on the sidewalk while my neighbor and one of his closest friends, ages 8 and 9, looked for bugs at the base of their front yard tree. One of the passersby called out, “Hey! Who’s that? Is that your giiiiirrrlllfriend?” using his best mocking tone. “No! She’s my friend!” replied our neighbor anxiously. “Well, I don’t like you!” the boy retorted sharply and walked on with his friend. It was a walk-by mouthing and it took all of my self-regulation skills to not shout the refrain, “If you can’t say something nice…” Although it is a cliché, it’s a mantra to live by. More than that, the simple statement implies the use of social and emotional skills, the likes of which kids are still developing. In our role as caregivers and models, we can cultivate those skills so that kids can confidently follow through on that wise old saying. Read full article. 

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