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Toots
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Bear with me, I'm inclined to ramble!

14 years ago, I collected my daughter from nursery and was greeted with 'she's been a pickle today'. New to the county of Essex I'd never heard this expression used with my older children. I distinctly remember asking the 'auntie' what she meant. I was quite offended and after a conversation with auntie discovered that she hadn't behaved as well as she should have that day. I went away with the feeling that 'pickle' was an acceptable swear word. Since then I have had this abhorrence to the word and any others that I've heard practitioners use about or to a child. As a setting deputy I have explained to my staff why it's unacceptable. At least I thought I had until I overheard one of them telling mum ( who's also a member of staff) that her daughter had been a pickle. And so began a huge discussion because the mum who'd been on maternity leave when I started at the setting thought it was ok. I now have two members of staff that are looking at me as if I'm bonkers, they just don't see anything wrong with it, probably because they've said it for so may years.

 

So.... please tell me your thoughts on this, point me to any articles online (I can't find any), by all means tell me I'm being over sensitive.

I know that I can stop from them from saying it but I need them to understand why.

 

Looking forward to all your views, please be as honest as possible!

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It's a strange thing isn't it, the way people can associate a word strongly with negative feelings? From my perspective, pickle doesn't really have that connotation, I'd say it's an almost affectionate way of letting a parent know that a child had been a bit of a handful (and practitioners definitely need to let parents know this occasionally!).

 

I'm also used to it being used in a similar way to explain that people get themselves into a tricky situation (she got into a bit of a pickle).

 

Here's one dictionary definition of pickle, which covers both of those situations (along with others). None of them really indicate that it's an unacceptable way to describe someone, so unless others have experience of the word being used more negatively, perhaps it's one of those subjective semantic things? :1b

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I've never heard the expression before but if its a local word and everyone understands the way its used I wouldn't worry about it. It sounds as if its a friendly word to describe unwanted behaviour without being too formal. My youngest was described as a loveable rogue, sounded much nicer than 'little bu**er'.

I'm sure there are many local colloquialisms out there which would baffle some of us.

How would you prefer staff to tell parents if their child has had a bit of an off day?

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I know the expression and, like Steve, see it as an kind, friendly way of saying that a child has been a bit naughty/ cheeky etc. I certainly would never consider it a swear word, acceptable or not. In fact I used it this morning to two boys who were clamouring to go outside. I said "Come on then you pair of pickles" and they laughed and ran outside. To me, it's like saying "cheeky monkey".

Where I do agree with you though, is that using terms like this can be a bit 'woolly' and its important that parents or staff know what we're referring to and what we mean. I have heard staff tell parents that a child has had 'a bit of a moment' meaning a tantrum and we've discussed how important it is to be clear in our communication about children's behaviour.

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Hi Toots

 

Funny isn't how some words or the use of some words can really 'grate' - I do understand where you're coming from - but on a personal basis it's not a word that I find offensive at all - rather as someone else said (ah it was the 'Key Dude') I see it as an affectionate term........

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I did grow up in the area , well Essex borders and it was used an an affectionate term.. not rude and with no negative feelings... bit like some areas call people Luv.. or ...chick... or any other similar term...It was often used to describe being in a bit of a mess in some way or other, and personally would not find any issue in it being used..

 

 

I am assuming most parents are local and use the term themselves.. so will find it 'normal' language.. and can always ask for a further explanation.. or staff could explain why they were in a bit of a pickle...

 

Edited by Inge
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It's a term I've used a lot over the years. As the others have stated it's always used in an affectionate way - the analogy with 'cheeky monkey' is a good one. I'm afraid I would be one of those members of staff who looked at you as if you were bonkers too ;)

I'm quite confused to be honest what on earth this 'auntie' said to you that made you think it was a swear word!

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grew up in London and Essex - I agree I would not be offended by its use unless there was a swear word in front of it but obviously if it offends you or any parent than is also fair point but I would agree with others that it is more of an endearment , I often refer to myself as a 'silly billy' at work and often feel that terms like this the children love and respond too and sets off a whole conversation of silly language.

I always disliked the fact that my son would often use hate and flipping - first one- I always said it was too strong and second one his dad uses and did not think it was a swear word but I do !

 

words, words,words, some can seem quite absurd,

other can upset and make us cry,

so why do they use them i wonder why?

for only to express ourselves or lighten the fact,

that we did not behave in the way that was taught,

and the situation became less than fraught!!

 

I may have been a pickle ,or a cheeky monkey too

but that's probably not the worse I can do

so if you call me a name ,make it harmless and fun

like silly billy or your a funny one !!

and anything

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Hi I am afraid I am with everybody else and have in fact used the term myself as a way of saying 'cheek monkey' 'bit of a handful' that kind of thing. I certainly wouldn't mean it in an offensive way or as a swear word or in any negative way at all.

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There's lots of phrases we use when you really think about it, "dolly daydream" "bit of a rip" but the funniest one I heard was in Yorkshire when a member of staff was describing the fact that the preschool had been really busy and lively "Eeee, it's like a bag of maggots in 'ere this morning!"

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I do hope no one else is offended by their child being called a little pickle as we use this regularly to let parents know that their child is a loveable, mischievous child. Call one of our children a little pickle, and they'll usually come back with "No I'm not, I'm a big pickle". We are in rural Oxfordshire. I didn't realise it was an Essex thing! I also see that there are several nurseries with pickle in their name.

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Well I never, I use the word quite often to parents, as well as an explanation why they were (yes to us it means, mischievous,cheeky).

I was born in London and have lived in Essex for over thirty years and have never heard anyone be offended by it.

I do know of a parent once who worked in Early Years in the area, and she was taken to task as she used the word " love" in her conversations, she was from the North.

Certainly wouldn't intentionally upset anyone though.:)

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I'm in Gloucestershire and use it often and as above see it as an affectionate expression so it doesn't offend me. if I use the term To discuss behaviour with parents, i believe it is understood by them as an affectionate term.

 

What does grate on me big style is children being described as 'guys' I have a student at the moment who uses this all the time as do Playgroup leaders- I grit my teeth!

Deb

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I say guys occasionally, also riff raff, monkies, sweathearts, monsters and rabble, to name a few. On the odd occasion I pop in I tell them I've only come in to take their snack and proceed to remove bits of fruit etc from the table, to screams and squeals. I tell them I need quiet because I'm old, and I get them to guess my age, just so I can 'get them'. I also shoot them.

 

I think its more about understanding each child and each family. You get to know how each family will respond to any given word or action and there are some children who you know never to shoot or call a name of endearment because they wont understand it. If I see a child looking a bit worried by the crazy lady I leave them alone, just as I wouldnt use a word if it bothered someone, but mostly terms of endearment are local and so widely used.

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What an interesting discussion. I would use 'pickle' in an affectionate way too, or if a child was getting in a bit of a tangle, I might say they were getting in a pickle.

 

My sister-in-law's mum has a similar word to describe her cheeky little monkeys (grandchildren) - she calls them all faggots! It took me a while to get used to that but like 'pickle' it is very much a term of endearment. :1b

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well Toots i would normally say that you as a manager have the right to tell your staff to stop saying this ...in fact you do have the right but i'm afraid i also find myself thinking this is a bit bonkers! (sorry!) This happened to you 14 years ago...perhaps it's time to let it go? I wonder why this word upset you so much when it was first used. I have lived and worked in a variety of places in the country and terms of endearement vary greatly. I also think it is much better to soften the situation (with some parents) by using a word like this rather than say Johnny's been rather badly behaved today...which i would tend to take umbridge with as an opening gambit! but i do think that there has to be a clear understanding of what they have done wrong and what has been done about it.

I also am one of those who use this and many other words to describe the children but i do chose them carefully when i talk to parents....as i have lots of EAL families who may not understand these local terms.

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Yes, I love the term 'pickle' (and use it frequently!) - such a lovely way to say a child has been 'mischievous' or got into a bit of a 'scrape'; I wouldn't use it however, to describe a child whose behaviour was more serious.

x

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Looking forward to all your views, please be as honest as possible!

 

Ah - now I'm seriously worried about this now - you told us to be honest and we have been - but you haven't 'been back' to comment and I'm concerned that you are hurt or offended - really hope not :(

 

So thought I would offer up a word that I detest - I know I'm barking mad - so no problem there :blink: my least favourite word is.........wait for it.........can I bring myself to even type it..........it is 'yoyo' - what a horrible word - don't why I dislike it so much - I just do! xDxDxD

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I have serious issue with children being called 'kids', especially by childcare professionals. I find it very derogatory. I think it seems to be just me though.

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No, not just you. I have a major problem. And spend half my time in college modelling the 'correct' language and (when excessively grumpy) commenting that I thought this was an education degree and not an animal handling one.. :ph34r:

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There are lots of words like the ''choo choo train'' that used to irritate me.. think it is wanting to use the simple word, rather than what could be termed 'baby language' in the past.. it has always irritated me and made me cringe..

 

(as an aside to that my brother in law.. said he always though a train was called a 'sgone' for years when growing up... seems his parents when watching trains would say

'look.. ahh ..its gone' when ever one went past! )

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Oh I'm on a roll now - can I offer up

 

'Choo choo train' - makes me want to scream "it's a train, a train, just a ****** train" :ph34r:

 

As someone who grew up with locomotive enthusiasts and married another, 'train' when used for the engine part annoys me, that's the engine, the bit it pulls is the 'train' like the long bit of a bride's dress.

 

Oh now I sound a right pedant!!!! (I hate train track, and amended it in my copy of EYFS before I printed it out! I changed it to 'railway line) Oh my, it gets worse, I'd better shut up now, or we need a whole new thread!!

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Whilst I agree 100% with dislike of 'baby talk' and never used it after about 12m with my own children, the American psychologist Anne Fernald has carried out much research on the use of baby talk and 'motherease'. She found that 'infants prefer baby talk to adult speech and that it plays an important role in their language development and that baby talk has universal features that span multiple cultures and languages.' Other cultures include the King Bushmen of the Kalahari and Yanomami of the Amazon Basin - there are other views, of course. Apologies for the lesson in child development! ;)

But doesn't 'baby talk' relate to BABIES rather than toddlers and pre-school children?!

I agree with Finleysmaid - 'TA' - I hate it - along with many Americanisms, including Hi! (No offence intended to Americans, of course!)

x

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