When young children swear or use foul language it can take adults by surprise. Where did she learn that? Has he said that word to anyone else? Here are 5 tips parents and educators can implement when a child uses an expletive:
- Ignore it. Sometimes a child may swear without knowing that it’s a bad word. A toddler may have heard someone use the word and now he or she is trying it out. They may not be able to comprehend or decipher between “good” and “bad” words. If adults do not react, the child may not say the word again. If saying the word gets a huge reaction from an adult (laughing or scolding), the child may be tempted to repeat it.
- Offer alternative words. If a child continues swear, it may be because the word itself carries great emphasis and is “fun” to say. Offer older children a fun alternative (like “Holy Shish-ka-bob, or “Duddle-sticks” to replace a bad word. A new word or phrase that no-one has heard before might be just as enticing, if not more enticing to say.
- Talk about and label feelings. A child may be using bad language to get attention or out of frustration. It is important that we communicate about our feelings and help our little ones to label their emotions.
- Monitor screen time. Children can pick up bad language from hearing it on television and the computer. Be aware of what your children are watching and always make sure it is appropriate for the age of your child.
- Be a good role-model. Remember that little ears are always listening. Children hear what we say and if we use bad language, chances are our children will pick up on that. If you slip up and blurt out an expletive, apologize right away, point out that it is not an acceptable word, and use an alternative as an example.
Naomi Pelss is a Registered Early Childhood Educator and manager of a child care centre. She has a degree in Child Studies and has been in the child care field for almost twenty years. Her other full time job is parenting four children and keeping up with her personal blog at www.morewithfourblog.com