Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Swearing and kids: A helpful tip

I swear like a trucker. I don't know why, but I like to drop the f-bomb, the s-bomb, the m-f-bomb, and anything else you can think of on a pretty regular basis. By regular, I mean daily. My partner in crime, Nate, is no stranger to the curse words, either, although he is significantly better than me about not using them so often. Either way, this, obviously, doesn't exactly create the best auditory environment for kids, especially those that are learning how to speak. So, once our first kid reached that age, I tampered down, as best as I could, the swearing, but have not been able to give it up entirely. 

So I put some thought into this, and somewhere along the way, I had an epiphany: Just because I stop (I use the word "stop" loosely) swearing in front of my kids, that doesn't mean the rest of the world will, too. The kids are still going to hear it, and they're still going to repeat it, like the time Connor, at the ripe old age of 2, told Nate, "you're fucking hurting me" when Nate was helping him put on his shirt. 

Once I realized this critical point, the solution was pretty clear to me. It's really very simple: Teach your kids that there are "adult" or "big people" words, and then there are "kid" words. They don't get to say the "big people" words until they are big. If they say the "big people" words, they get in trouble. When, in the process of them learning this rule, they hear a swear word, remind them that that's a big person word and they don't get to say it. So far, it has worked very well with our kids, and I know we're not that lucky; it's just a good tactic. Kids just get it, for some reason. We still have to tell ours not to jump on the couch 95 times a day, but they know not to say a "big person" word. 

And I don't have to cringe, or even notice anymore, when others swear in front of my kids! 

In closing, a funny story (to me, at least): When Ethan was barely 4, if not younger, we were in the car and I had my iPod on shuffle. A rap song that has "motherfucker" rapped about every five words came on, and while I changed it pretty quickly, Ethan got an earful. He put his hand over his mouth and started giggling. I asked him what he was laughing at, and he said, "that song." I just rolled my eyes. A few minutes later I pulled into the driveway and was getting Ethan out of the car when he started giggling again and, in a way that suggested he thought he was going to be getting away with something really big, announced "Mom, I'm going to say that word in my bed!"  
Knock yourself out, kid.

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  1. My replacement word has been "donky" LOL try it

  2. That is an awesome replacement word - I'll definitely have to try it out! "I am so donkey mad".... :)) Thanks for sharing!

  3. I have totally been using your technique for years (well, forever really). I was never very good at toning it down. My potty-mouth has tourette's most days. #1 dropped the f-bomb exactly once and he knew the second it came out that he shouldn't have done that.

    The one I've been into lately for whatever reason is "balls" (oh, balls). #1 used it once not even knowing it was an "adult word" and couldn't figure out why he got in s#!t for it.

    Other than that, my kids just know what words they're not allowed to use. They're smarter than we think, eh. Smarter than they let on :)

    1. So true on both smarter than we thank AND that they let on!

  4. My question is (because we can't seem to stop cursing in my house either, and my two that are old enough to talk know very well which words they are not allowed to use) how is it that we can tell them once (or 3-4 times at the most) not to say it and they get it. However with serious stuff like "stay out of the road" has to be repeated EVERY TIME WE GO OUT THE DOOR!!!

  5. I"m playing catch up. My oldest is 5 and last night said "I'm not going to put up with crap like that" Now crap isn't the worst word but its one I say A LOT, and I'm sure I say that phrase to him A LOT. I had to hide my giggles as my husband disciplined him and tried to explain grown up words. He knows that some drinks are only grown up drinks, surely he can understand grown up words too.

    1. It might take some time but yes, he'll eventually get the difference!


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