Past the most innocent stage of your baby's life, you will probably have to face kid swearing.
All of a sudden, your 'angelical' child could shock you by cursing and using verbal abuse to express his anger. The first and most natural reaction for you to have may be showing your disapproval and confronting him with a bad attitude. But is that going to help you solve the problem? Or will this rather encourage him to keep using swear words?
Here you have a short guide to help you cope with kid swearing, so that you don't lose this 'battle'.
Kid swearing: Why do they do it?
Generally, child swearing begins when kids are between 3 to 5 years old. This is the time when they start going to school, where they learn many good things... but also a few bad ones. Among the latter, cursing stands out as one of the most common ones, since it feels new to your kid and, somehow, it seems to have an immediate effect. In other words, when a little kid swears, it usually catches everybody's attention, and that gives him a sense of power. It's not that much about the actual meaning of the words they say, but the response they get. Just think that at school he'll hear other kids swearing pretty much every day, which will make him play it down.
Teaching him not to swear
How can you prevent your kid from swearing? Well, setting a good example could be the starting point. You can't let him curse, of course, but you need to have a way with it and not let him see how much it bothers you. Here are some tips that you should try out:
- Don't laugh: one of the worst things you can do is laugh at a kid swearing. The least thing you want is to make him feel that he's being funny. If you crack up instead of acting serious, he'll do it over and over!
- Watch your mouth: kids 'take' every word that comes out of your mouth. If you curse, don't expect them to be well-mannered.
- Explain why it's not ok: pick the right words to tell your child, in a simple way, why swearing isn't nice. The point is for him to understand that he can't go hurting everybody's feelings all the time.
- Keep calm and ignore it: the more you care about your kid swearing, the worse. A good piece of advice is for you to relax and not let it affect you. Your apathy may discourage your son or daughter, who may come to the conclusion that rude language doesn't fulfil his or her purposes.
- Actions bring along consequences: don't take us wrong, because ignoring your child's words doesn't mean ignoring the problem. You need to take action, but do it smoothly and without losing your temper, even if it's hard. Have zero tolerance against swearing and, if necessary, punish your child depriving him of his favourite toy, videogame or whatever he enjoys regularly.
- Correct him: there's no need for you to get all worked up when facing kid swearing. Instead, why don't you try to correct him calmly by teaching him alternative words to express the same ideas? Or even better, you can make up some new meaningless words that you can both bond over in a playful way.
- Reading: reading to him or encouraging him to read books can help him widen his vocabulary, learn new words and provide him with extra language skills. Besides preventing kid swearing, it will also help his education!
If the problem persists over time and none of the tips listed above work out, maybe you should consider how you are raising your kid. Are you being too strict with him? Does he get enough attention? Some children keep their feelings under the surface and show them in different ways. Swearing could be one of them, so don't take for granted that he's just trying to annoy you.
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of kid swearing and how to approach it. Clearly, every child is different and it's hard to predict how he or she is going to react, but you can't give in. If you commit to having a 'free-swearing house', both you and Dad need to make the effort as well. It's a matter of time until your child follows your example.