One of the exciting things about parenting is to watch your baby grow. You may remember the first time they did something or said something like -dada’ or -mamma’. But I bet you also remember the first time your toddler said -futh’ or -shith’, that would’ve evoked mixed emotions in you.
If your kid has learnt to use bad words, and is on a mission to talk like a thug, you need to stop that potty mouth before it gets beyond control.
How do they learn it?
Kids are wonderful learners. They learn by observation and remember it too. So if your toddler has learnt to cuss and swear, by all means, she or he must’ve learnt it in the house (unless his or her buddies are goons). So, remember that kids are observing you and taking in all that you say and do. They look up to you. If you don’t swear at all in front of your kids, then it is also possible that they’ve heard it on the TV, or from the babysitter! Or maybe, they’ve exchanged some funny new words with their friends at pre-school.
Whatever it is, you need to find the root cause of these problems to clean up your child’s vocabulary. If you don’t swear or curse, find out who does in front of your child, and politely tell them to stop it. If they don’t, avoid letting your child into their company.
What you can do
Parents are the child’s first teachers. Whatever your kids learn, they learn it from you. If you’ve helped them learn it, even unknowingly, you have to help them unlearn it too.
After every action, a child usually observes your reaction to figure out what is allowed and what is not. So the next time your children say a swear word or cuss, don’t react. Whether you are shocked and angry or amused by the way they said it, try and keep a poker face. Otherwise, you are only encouraging them to do it again.
Understand this, when toddlers learn that they can make you laugh, angry or upset, they tend to repeat it to enjoy the control they have over you. Usually it begins as a test, to check your reaction to it, and when you react by laughing out loud or getting angry, you end up reinforcing their behavior.
Kids are like parrots in that they listen, learn and repeat what ever you say. If your 2 year-old hears you using foul words everyday, she or he is sure to repeat them sometime. After all, kids love their mommy and daddy and want to be like them. So, clean up your vocabulary first, and be careful of what you say in front of your children. Because, no matter how much you try, toddlers cannot understand how something that’s right for you, can be wrong for them.
If your TV is turned on all the time, there’s every chance your toddler picked up the bad words from there. So be aware of what you are watching when your kid is around. If the program has any amount violence, sex or profanity, change it to something suitable, or better yet, switch it off.
Usually, toddlers who swear or cuss have no idea whatsoever, about the meaning of the word or the intent behind it. You 2 year-old could’ve chanced upon hearing fouls words somewhere and taken a fancy to it. So, if your kid is just using it for fun, in play or in a song, try to substitute that word with a cleaner but a funny one. Use funny words from the Looney tunes, amusing words like -abracadabra’ or -shishkebab’, or simply use replacement words like -fudge and -hedge .
What’s behind that swear word
Kids are smart learners. If your child has started using swear words to express anger or distress, substituting them with funny words doesn’t help. It may be amusing when they say -I feel so abracadabra or I am shishkebab today’, to express anger, but it wouldn’t really make sense. So if your little darling says sh** or the f-word, like an adult, when he or she drops or breaks something, encourage him or her to use simple expressions like -uh-oh , -oops or phrases like – I am mad or – I am angry instead, to express their feelings.
Teaching your toddler the -give respect, take respect rule early in life will stop the child from hurling abuses at you and everybody else. Explain it to your pre-schooler that it is not a good thing to use bad language or call people names such as -poopyface or -farthead , as it can be hurtful. This, in a way also, teaches your kid to be empathetic.
Just because your toddler is stuck with a foul word because it sounds fun and exciting, you cannot take it easy. Lay down strict rules about what is allowed and what is not and explain it to your kids in a calm and simple manner. Tell them that such words cannot be spoken in the house or anywhere in public and that, they may not be allowed to do so either.