My daughter is…spritely. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, she’s bursting with energy to the point I sometimes wonder just how she doesn’t explode violently from all the adrenaline flowing in such a small little body. Spirited, anxious, defiant, silly, hyper, restless, intelligent, on and on. All of these things I have known for a while and I have always (for the most part) watched my mouth around her because she is a parrot like no other. So, it was a great surprise when we were getting ready for school one morning and I say;
“Hey Geegee, what are you doing?”
*she’s around the corner so I can only half see her
“Putting my f*****g boots on.”
“Um, you’re what?”
“Um, putting my f*****g boots on?”
Yes, it was almost cute but it was more horrifying. Seeing that pretty little face scrunch up and say the dirtiest of dirties right to my face!
Well, naturally I was totally calm and cool about it.
But after, I tried to recap and figure out how to end this cycle of bad language.
To be clear- this is not the first curse word my angel has uttered nor am I that delusional that it will be the last. However, I do think there’s plenty of little tips to keep you from becoming the parent of an Italian mobster.
This was the first advice I was ever given. My daughter’s first word of choice is the “s” word. And she uses it correctly. If she drops something she’ll go “oh s***”. Of course, I told her no the first few times, then I tried ignoring it like was recommended. However, in our case when I ignored her she just repeated it, and repeated it, and got closer to me and said it again. How can you just not discipline that?
I do agree, however, that exploding, or going overboard over something as simple as boundary and language testing (because to me that’s all it is) is a little much and probably doing the opposite of what you want. Letting the child know, “I heard what you said, I don’t like it, and I will now be ignoring you until you apologize or find a better word to use”, has been MUCH more helpful. So now it usually goes;
“I don’t like that language, please say something else.”
“Oh my gravy?”
Monitor Language Learned
As I mentioned in World War Mommy, I’m not all about helicopter parenting. Kids are going to hear things and see things that you wish they wouldn’t. I don’t think hiding it is the right way to go. On the same note, I don’t think Game of Thrones is a family night show either (sorry GOT, love you dearly). One study I read showed that despite our efforts, “between the ages of one and two, Dr. Jay found boys knew an average of six taboo words, and girls eight.”
There’s a limit to the amount of exposure you should agree is okay. Keeping really violent and seedy things off of the tv and tablets is a great start. Listen to what your child is saying too, a lot of times I hear a certain a child’s name associated with a new choice word. I haven’t had to talk to that child’s parent or anything yet but at least I know there’s an accomplice.
Encourage Clean Humor
I think the majority of kids think they are funny. Not all of them are, the little dears, but they try. A lot of language play is an attempt at humor to make you laugh and pay attention to them. Instead of blowing up over a dirty word, encourage some clean jokes. “Guess what, chicken butt” is one, in particular, I hear daily.
Anger vs Angry
My daughter struggles with her anger, as do a lot of young children. It’s an intense emotion for anyone. We are learning that it’s okay to be angry, it’s not okay to release anger. The difference is how you actually respond to those emotions.
We are now learning how to walk away from an anger evoking situation. When I tell her we can’t watch something because it’s too late or we can’t go outside I’m about to feed her brother, she is learning to walk away (usually to her room or playroom) and start to read or do something to take her mind off of it. After having a small fit of course. The fit is good though as long as she’s releasing her frustration safely.
Learning how to verbally express feelings will diminish the need for foul language in an aggressive way.
Check Yo Self
Don’t curse in front of your kids. I figured that’s a given but after some of the instances I’ve seen, it’s definitely not. I’m not going to say it hasn’t slipped out, it’s just bound to happen at some point. If your child calls you out on it (I think most will) then scorn yourself, don’t give them the old ‘I’m the grown-up I’m allowed’ routine. Kids are smarter than that. Geegee tells me, “mommy you said a bad a word” and I say yes. Yes, I did.
I have had to fess up and say “you are right, mommy should not have said that. What I should have said is “why is this lovely gentleman in front of us on the highway going so slow, I’m sure he has good reason”.”