Discouraging swearing

September 27, 2022

At some point or another, your child will learn some swear words. It is inevitable. In fact, the use of swear words amongst peers at the appropriate age often reflects healthy social development. But no parent wants their child to become potty-mouthed. There are plenty of reasons why children might swear. Maybe they are just innocently exploring language, trying to understand a swear word’s meaning, or they are mispronouncing another word. However, they might be trying to provoke a reaction in you or elicit a laugh from their peers. So, your response should reflect why you think your child is swearing. Here are some top tips, based on what you think about your little one’s intentions. 

 

  1.   Swearing for attention – Ignore the swearing

If you believe your child is swearing because they know it grabs your attention, especially if you have responded angrily in the past, it is best to ignore their behaviour completely. Stay calm, don’t make eye contact and, most importantly, don’t laugh. Only provide positive feedback when they use polite language. 

  1. Swearing by accident – Correct the pronunciation

Children learn new words all the time, many of which are going to be extremely close to swear words in pronunciation. It is natural that in trying to practice these new words, like ‘sit’ or ‘truck’, what comes out sounds more like a swear word than the word intended. 

When this happens, gently correct your child’s pronunciation. It is a bad idea to pay attention to it or laugh at it, because children may take this for positive feedback and be inclined to repeat the swear word.

  1. Swearing out of anger – Teach your child other ways to manage strong feelings

Children, perhaps through imitation, may learn the actual function of swear words and use them to express frustration or anger. If this is the case, begin by helping your child to name their emotions in more neutral terms, such as “frustration”, “disappointment”, and “annoyance”. This should help them use more appropriate words. 

More generally, you can help your child deal with strong emotions in other ways, such as counting to ten, taking deep breaths and encouraging open conversation about those feelings. 

Other top tips:

  1. Become aware of what your child hears on the TV and the radio. Avoid watching shows with swear words while your child is around.
  2. Create family rules about respectful language. Enforce them calmly but with authority. You might say: “please use a nicer word” or “we don’t use words like that”.
  3. Follow the rules that you have set for your child. Remember how much they like to imitate you!

Discouraging swearing

September 27, 2022

At some point or another, your child will learn some swear words. It is inevitable. In fact, the use of swear words amongst peers at the appropriate age often reflects healthy social development. But no parent wants their child to become potty-mouthed. There are plenty of reasons why children might swear. Maybe they are just innocently exploring language, trying to understand a swear word’s meaning, or they are mispronouncing another word. However, they might be trying to provoke a reaction in you or elicit a laugh from their peers. So, your response should reflect why you think your child is swearing. Here are some top tips, based on what you think about your little one’s intentions. 

 

  1.   Swearing for attention – Ignore the swearing

If you believe your child is swearing because they know it grabs your attention, especially if you have responded angrily in the past, it is best to ignore their behaviour completely. Stay calm, don’t make eye contact and, most importantly, don’t laugh. Only provide positive feedback when they use polite language. 

  1. Swearing by accident – Correct the pronunciation

Children learn new words all the time, many of which are going to be extremely close to swear words in pronunciation. It is natural that in trying to practice these new words, like ‘sit’ or ‘truck’, what comes out sounds more like a swear word than the word intended. 

When this happens, gently correct your child’s pronunciation. It is a bad idea to pay attention to it or laugh at it, because children may take this for positive feedback and be inclined to repeat the swear word.

  1. Swearing out of anger – Teach your child other ways to manage strong feelings

Children, perhaps through imitation, may learn the actual function of swear words and use them to express frustration or anger. If this is the case, begin by helping your child to name their emotions in more neutral terms, such as “frustration”, “disappointment”, and “annoyance”. This should help them use more appropriate words. 

More generally, you can help your child deal with strong emotions in other ways, such as counting to ten, taking deep breaths and encouraging open conversation about those feelings. 

Other top tips:

  1. Become aware of what your child hears on the TV and the radio. Avoid watching shows with swear words while your child is around.
  2. Create family rules about respectful language. Enforce them calmly but with authority. You might say: “please use a nicer word” or “we don’t use words like that”.
  3. Follow the rules that you have set for your child. Remember how much they like to imitate you!

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