When %&$*# comes from your child's mouth

Filed under: Toddlers Preschoolers, Preschoolers, Teens, Development/Milestones: Babies

She was nearly four-years-old and my daughter was ready to blow. She was furious at me for hurrying her out the door when clearly she didn't want to be hurried. She was sitting at the top of the stairs, face pinched in fury, while I stood at the front door with my coat and shoes on waiting for her. She shouted at me, "You're....you're...." I braced myself, ready to be called a name for the first time by my firstborn child, then finally she exploded with rage:

"You're.....READY TO GO!"

My kids, thus far, don't swear. I'm surprised, because --though we try to keep things G-rated -- sometimes those kinds of words slip out. But it's perfectly normal for young children to pick up swear words and even to use them, often in the most embarrassing way possible.

When young children swear, it's usually just a language learning issue. They have no concept of a "bad" word -- why would words be bad? Later, say experts, peers influence kids far more than parents, and even if you've never spoken a bad word out loud, they may still come home swearing. Teens use cursing as a rite of passage, just one more thing to make them feel closer to the adults they are becoming.

NPR has a terrific article on why kids curse. I love the idea expressed in the article that setting boundaries on intention is far more important than curbing the cursing itself. If a 12-year-old is using that language to attack another child, then it needs to be dealt with. If he swears under his breath when he drops a book on his toe, well, does that really need to be addressed?

How do you handle swearing at your house?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.