Writer Klara Donovan explores the reality of other people’s kids using foul or offensive language.
Plus, right at the bottom; 5 Simple Tips For Dealing With Swearing when it rears its potty-mouthed head in your home…
My son loves going to the playground. He adores the swings and the slide. He wants to climb everything at least twice before I can finally drag him home. It’s one of life’s sweetest moments, watching his face light up as he plays. Life is great, my toddler is happy…
… and then some grot behind us drops the f-bomb.
I saw that kid just before, about seven years old, playing innocently with his little brother. I stole glances their way, enjoying the exuberant sibling love, imagining my son with his own little playmate, someday. So cute. So sweet.
Yet the moment that word is uttered, all the love is gone. I’m wrinkling my nose and judging him. And I’m judging his parents, too.
Adults (even parents of young kids) swear, I get it. But kids shouldn’t swear. Kids shouldn’t even know what a swear word is. Growing up, I assume my parents swore – but they never did it in front of us until we were older. My friends’ parents somehow managed to show the same restraint. We were all innocent-ears throughout primary school, convinced that the rudest thing you could say to someone was “shut up”. I genuinely heard my first f-bomb when I was about 12 years old.
And sure, maybe that kid at the playground didn’t hear it from his parents. Maybe he heard it from his friends, who heard it from their friends. But someone, somewhere, is swearing in front of their kids.
- They’re letting their kids watch movies or TV shows not appropriate for their age.
- They even respond to their kids’ swearing by laughing instead of shutting the behaviour down.
- and finally, they model the idea that it’s okay to swear.
But parents, in my world, it’s really, truly not okay.
The thing about swear words is that kids find them fascinating.
As soon as they realise a word is dirty, they want to try it, they want to tell it to their friends and they want to use it as often as possible. Not long after hearing my first f-bomb, I went through a phase of swearing like a dirty little trucker. It was charming. My Mum was horrified. But I was almost a teenager, it was a coming-of-age thing that I quickly grew out of when I realised there was more to conversation than dropping an f-bomb every third word to get my point across. A seven-year-old doesn’t operate with that kind of logic.
Sure they’re just words, but they’re adult words, and they’re ugly words, and frankly, they have no place in the mouth of a 7-year-old. Childhood should be innocent and a kid who comes home from school having learned a cheeky new word from his mate should be taught that it’s not an appropriate word to use. I know most parents are doing this. Unfortunately, some choose to shrug it off or even laugh rather than treat it seriously. These parents are the reason that these words are spreading like wildfire through their kids’ schools. These parents are the reason that my toddler is hearing the f-bomb at the playground.
Call me crazy, but I would like my son to grow up the same way I did. I would like to think I can raise him not to swear or even hear swear words until he’s much older… and the only thing standing between my goal and me is someone’s foul-mouthed little treasure on the playground.
5 Simple Tips to Deal With Your Kids Swearing
Some parents carefully watch every word that comes out of their mouths. Others let a curse word slip from time to time. But no matter which category you fall into, hearing your child swear isn’t a pleasant experience for you – or anyone else!
- Take your child’s age into consideration. Children who are just learning to talk usually do not realise that swear words are bad. If a very small child mimics a swear wear it’s better to simply let is slide, it will likely be forgotten.
- Do your best not to laugh as this could also cause a repeat occurrence. If your child thinks that you are entertained by their swearing they will likely do it again!
- Don’t overreact. If you make an excessive fuss when your child swears, there’s a good chance that it will reinforce the behaviour. They could use the word again for attention or when they want to get a reaction out of you.
- Watch your own language and what you say around your kids. Children often pick up swear words at home and hearing them frequently will make them think this is acceptable behaviour.
- If your child has more developed language skills, a calm and simple explanation of why it’s not a ‘nice word’ should suffice. Don’t overreact simply explain and tell them not to repeat it.