I was in another room when I heard what seemed to be Morse code coming from my television. It turns out that it was the censors blocking what seemed to be every other word. At least the objectionable words were bleeped out. More and more, it seems, foul language has been sprinkled throughout movies, video games, and books, many of which are aimed at young kids. One study has found that the more teens hear swearing in television and games, the more likely they are to repeat the taboo words themselves.
If you have kids with vile vocabularies or who use hurtful language with others, here is an activity you can do with them to help them understand the power of their words.
- A travel-sized tube of toothpaste for each child,
- a paper plate for each child, and
- some hand wipes for each child
Preteen and Elementary Object Lesson: Keep Your Language Minty-Fresh
Give each kid a paper plate and toothpaste tube and say that you have a challenge. Tell them that they have 10 seconds to squeeze as much toothpaste out of the tube as they can onto the paper plate. After you call time, explain that the real challenge is that they have 30 seconds to put the toothpaste back in the tube.
Give kids time to try to put back all they squeezed out. Some creative types may get a little back in, but the majority of the toothpaste should still be on the plate.
Distribute the hand wipes and let kids clean up. Afterwards, ask the kids these questions:
- How did you feel trying to get the toothpaste back into the tube?
- How is getting the toothpaste out and then back into the tube like the words that we say?
Read Psalm 34:13 Then, ask:
- Why do you think God wants us to watch what we say?
- What are some things you can do instead of using bad or hurtful language?
It is easy to say to a child who uses bad language “that’s bad, don’t say that” and let it go. But you would be missing an opportunity. Explain what the Bible says about bad words. Then encourage kids to find other words to say or other outlets for their emotions. Use 1 Thessalonians 5:11 as a starting point to show that God wants us to be helpful with our words, not hurtful. Before long you will be busting putdowns and hearing uplifting, encouraging language coming from your kids.
Looking for more object lessons? Try these ideas!