Michael Grose’s Top 5 Ideas to Handle Swearing Kids

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Most parents shudder when they hear their kids swear! “You didn’t you pick up that language from home” is a common response.

Well, maybe not, but kids pick up their language from many places, including their peers, the media and in the school-ground. And it’s something parents have to handle at some stage.

Children swear for many reasons, including to experiment with language; to attract your attention; to make themselves appear bigger or older than they are; and even as a challenge or expression of personal power.

Like other forms of language children need to learn that there are times and places when its use is unacceptable or causes distress to others.

Here are five ideas to try when your kids turn the air blue with the wrong lingo:

  1. Avoid over-reacting.
    However, make the message clear that you are unimpressed with swearing and you are willing to leave them alone when they swear.  Consider withdrawing your cooperation temporarily if they swear at you.
  2. Discuss the concept of appropriate language with older children.
    Teach them that language may be appropriate in one context or be accepted by one group but it is not acceptable in every situation.  While not condoning swearing get across to children that they need to learn to control their use of language and adjust it to suit the situation they are in.
  3. Nip it in the bud before it becomes habitual:
    Children, like adults, can use inappropriate language out of habit.  If this is the case make up alternative words that replace swearing.  One family had replaced certain words with fruit.  They had a fruit for every situation!
  4. Try the penalty system.
    When family members swear they are fined an agreed amount which is placed in a money-box.  At the end of the week or month the money can be given to a worthy cause or spent in a way that benefits others.  Of course, parents should join in this as well.
  5. Take a long, hard look at er…..yourself!
    Examine your own choice of language to judge if it is an acceptable model for your children. Yep, sometimes kids will pick up our language and repeat it at the worst possible time such as when your relatives are over.
  • Anonymous

    I actually had this come up a day ago from my youngest, i just “demystify” the word in question by asking them if it makes them feel tougher or more powerful. lol it quickly looses all its charm.

  • Guestus

    I hate hearing parents swear. It should be like graffitti – only something silly young people do!

  • Judy

    Far out! Yes, I modified my #1 expletive because my son got upset every time I used it, especially when driving. Just a bad habit, nothing else. Now my new habit is “faaaar out” (and makes him laugh.) “Fruit” works too.

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