This is a Different Kind of Potty Training...
"Kids say the darnedest things..." but when they utter those "bad words" it can be rather shocking. Even the most sheltered child is bound to hear a swear word at some point. If you are lucky they won't repeat it.
As a mom of a large, not so perfect tribe, I have come to realize that they usually will voice such words at the most inopportune time...in the grocery line, in the church parking lot, or in earshot of the church Elders. I know, God blessed you with angels who would never do such a thing. But please read on....so you can encourage your friends who may have been blessed with "angels" whose halos may be slightly tilted.
Why Are My Kids Swearing?
When young children swear, it's usually because they are repeating what they have heard. They are simply learning language skills and are not trying to be offensive. Older children curse for various reasons. Sometimes it's just out of ignorance. They do not realize that such a word is offensive.
They might repeat the word thinking that they are "cool" and it makes them sound more grown up. As children get older they come to realize that words can be hurtful and offensive. They may use them as a defense mechanism or to vent frustration.
Even with the best of parenting, a child may not get the amount of quality time and attention that they may need. Research shows that children often misbehave when there is a need missing in their life. Additional needs may be physical closeness, individual attention, meaningful activities, and respect. When children's needs are not filled, they do whatever it takes to fill those needs. A child cursing can be a tell tale sign that they are not getting the amount of attention needed.
As parents, such words coming for our children usually takes us by surprise. We are in shock, get upset or maybe even laugh. Either way, the child receives attention. Children need lots of individual attention, but it may be hard for them to communicate that to us in a more mature manner. I often hear people say, "He's only doing that to get attention" implying that the child should not be given attention because it is not an actual "need". However, the need for attention is quite serious and should be addressed accordingly. Kids are very smart and if they notice that swearing gets your attention, they will begin to utilize it as a tool to get you to focus on them.
Where do my Children Learn Swear Words?
Swears words can be seen or heard almost everywhere nowadays. As much as you might not want to admit it, they may hear YOU saying such words (oh my....say it's not so!). Remember when you stubbed your toe?? Parents can be one of the main sources of swear words that younger children hear.
Children may also hear swear words on TV, the radio, and in movies. Even books have curse words in them! This is why it's so important to monitor the things our children listen to, read, and watch on TV.
So what do you do when little Johnny starts swearing like a sailor? Here are a few tips:
Making a big scene will only reinforce the behavior. They will continue to use such words when they crave attention.
Again, this will reinforce the behavior. Kids love making people laugh...drawing attention to themselves.
Watch your own language.
They are more likely to think such words are acceptable if mom and dad are swearing too.
Consider your child's age.
If they are just learning language skills simply ignore the swear word and they will usually not repeat it.
Avoid negative confrontation.
This will only reinforce the attention seeking behaviors.
Don’t video tape it!
Sure, a video of your cursing toddler might make all of your Facebook friends laugh, but don't pull out your phone the next time they swear. Doing so sends them a mixed message of "I don’t want you to swear, but swearing will make my friends laugh, so could you do it again?"
Explain to them what they are saying
If your child is older give them a calm explanation of why they shouldn't use such language. Sometimes a simple explanation of a word that they heard on the school bus will bring clarity and they will not use the word again. Give them other words to use instead that are more appropriate.
Apologize if you swear
If you slip and say a swear word, be sure to apologize to them.
Discipline older children
Older children, who know that swear words are not acceptable, may need to be disciplined. We have found that removing privileges (take the car keys!) works wonders.
Hug your children!
Yes, you may be irritated with them at the moment but, research shows that showing warmth and affection towards your kids will have a life-long positive effect on them.
Ultimately, show your children that you love them.
They may just be seeking attention from you and will do anything they can to get you to focus on them. There are plenty of ways to show your children that you love them.
Listen, don't take it too hard if your "angel" spits out a swear word. Just make it clear that such words are unacceptable and suggest more appropriate words. Never tolerate disrespect and quickly nip bad attitudes in the bud.
My best advice is to spend time together as a family. This togetherness will reinforce family values, give your children the much-needed attention they crave, and encourage positive attitudes. Intentional parenting isn't easy, but it's worth all the hard work.
Thank you so much for reading! It would mean the world to me if you left a like and shared the post! It's really simple! Just click one of the social media icons at the bottom of the post! Sharing this post can help other parenting who may be struggling with their kids swearing as well!
Do you have any tips or tricks that have helped you when your child is cursing? If so, let everyone know in the comment section below!
Did you like this post and want to keep seeing more content like this? Consider becoming a patron to help support Raising Our Tribe!