A note to the uninitiated: Aunty Aidan is Aidan Montessori School's cheeky advice columnist. Have you got a question for her next column? Please email the grande dame herself - she's always happy to help.
Dear Aunty Aidan,
My older says to the younger, "You're stupid!" How do I manage this?
A Rose by Any Other Name
Namecalling is a kind of teasing that children do to make themselves feel powerful and might cut to our core, reminding us of times we've been on both ends of that spectrum. While sometimes it can be a result of frustration or anger, calling someone an unkind name disguises a deeper issue of insensitivity to another's feelings.
The namecallee needs to have their feelings of embarrassment/sadness validated and the namecaller needs to be guided to a sincere apology. The former needs to be armed with appropriate retorts (That hurt my feelings.) and the latter should be advised on what is respectful (I didn't like it when you knocked over my tower.).
Both of these actions must be handled in developmentally appropriate ways, since the under 6 crowd is more likely to be trying out new words to see if they get a reaction (bathroom talk, anyone?). Elementary-aged children could benefit from a large dose of dialogue after reading books, like Crow Boy by Yashima. Then they are no longer "stupid" about what is polite and can call a rose a rose.