We have learned that a person is required to exercise his influence on members of his household so that they will avoid the sin of loshon hora. In this segment, the Chofetz Chaim explains why it is especially important to train children to guard their tongues.
He quotes the Vilna Gaon, who says that proper speech and good character are acquired through practice — lots of practice. If a child is trained to avoid speaking negatively of others, then he will carry this training into adulthood. He will have the necessary control to choose his words carefully.
The Chofetz Chaim maintains that the reason why loshon hora was so widespread in his generation, was that people had been accustomed from their youth to speaking whatever they pleased, without anyone ever telling them that there exists a concept called shmiras haloshon. Thus, people did not even consider the possibility that their words involved any sort of transgression.
The situation, says the Chofetz Chaim, would be different if children were trained from their early youth to watch their words. If children were taught to consider the impact of their words before they speak, they would have the “basic training” they needed to avoid loshon hora, ona’as devarim (hurtful words), and other forbidden speech. And shmiras haloshon would be considered as integral to Jewish life as kashrus or tefillin.
The Chofetz Chaim provides us with all the motivation we need to educate our children in this way. He assures us that our efforts to help our children observe shmiras haloshon will make it easy for them to “safeguard themselves with regard to this sacred quality.” And he assures us that through this, they will merit a beautiful portion in the World to Come and all the blessings of life in this world as well.