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Toddler dropping the F-bomb! How to get him to stop?
June 2, 2009 9:45 AM   Subscribe

My toddler is saying, "fuck". Funny when some kid on YouTube says it, not funny when your 2 year old says it at a church during prayer! And he's not trying to say truck like a defective Elmo. He's actually picked it up...(I'm no an angel, but my wife and I try to watch our mouths) and ohmygosh please any ideas on how to make him stop? What sucks the most is most other parents assume his mom and I swear like sailors. My theory on how he picked it up...he probably heard us or TV say the word or he was trying to say another word...we reacted to it...and now it's his favorite little show when he's angry and not getting his way. We've tried suggesting he was trying to say another word like frog or truck...telling him to say another word that's more fun like "fooey"...and now since he gets a devlish look on his face when he says it, so we've opted for discipline. Other parents: your kids ever done this so young? Did people look at you like the scum of the earth when he was throwing a tantrum at Target, too? lol
posted by mikee to Human Relations (50 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think you need to stop reacting to this word when he says it. No discipline, no nothing. Because even negative attention is fun. And the more you react, the more fun it is for him. I think he's too young to possibly understand how a word can be "bad" (which is something pretty abstract even for adults).

And don't worry what people think. No one can understand kids this age, so people might easily assume it's a mispronunciation. If you must address it, just smile at them.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:00 AM on June 2, 2009 [10 favorites]


I meant to say... I bet if you ignore it, he'll stop saying it in only a couple of days.

What kind of discipline are you doing, anyway?
posted by bluedaisy at 10:01 AM on June 2, 2009


Your son has discovered the awesome power of making his parents jump around by simply saying a single word. Punishing him for saying a word will continue to make using that word more attractive as kids thrive on attention—doesn't always matter if it's positive or negative attention.

Don't react when he says it. Don't worry about what other parents are thinking or assuming or whatever it is that is making you react. It's just a word and the less attention to pay to it, the faster it will go away.

You can try modeling a different "bad" word: junior is in earshot, you drop something and you say "Yogurt!" and then clap your hands over your mouth and look guilty. Your kid will be gleefully screaming YOGURT at every opportunity within the week.
posted by jamaro at 10:03 AM on June 2, 2009 [41 favorites]


Yup, distraction with a "safe" word worked for me. Oh crackers!
posted by ducktape at 10:05 AM on June 2, 2009


seconding what jamaro said. worked well for me in my former life as a nanny. i used "frogs"
posted by ms.jones at 10:06 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


My mom would try correcting my siblings in a horribly lame manner "No, honey, Duck!" or "Shitaake!" which (a) didn't work and (b) still showed how much power words like fuck and shit had over her. My advice? Completely ignore it.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:07 AM on June 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


I learned this lesson with the word "shutup!" when my kids were small --- if I had just calmly and mildly said "aw, just ask your brother nicely not to interrupt" instead of "ZOMG THAT'S SO MEAN WE NEVER EVER SAY MEAN THINGS LIKE THAT NOW SAY YOU'RE SORRY AND MEAN IT!!!!!!!1111 then "shutup" wouldn't have become their favorite word for about 6 months or so =)

Your child is going to say all kinds of things as he grows up. When you react to the things he says, he gets some pleasure out of the attention. When you over-react to it, he gets a perverse delight out of your attention and your obvious discomfort! Do not feed the little troll!

And also, don't care what the other parents think. Every kid is going to test his parents, and do/say things that embarrass them in front of other adults. The good news is that when they become teenagers, the tables are turned and just about everything you do will embarrass him!
posted by headnsouth at 10:10 AM on June 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Our word is "chickens." Like, "Oh, chickens, I dropped the cup!" It's silly enough that it seems to have caught on.
posted by peep at 10:13 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


My sister couldn't say "firetruck." Instead she would yell "FUCKYFUCK!" It reduced us to a quivering mass of giggles every single time. Especially in church.

But the truth is that kids that age get a total pass on that sort of thing. Now we just laugh about it, and how my parents would freeze every time they heard sirens knowing that their youngest daughter would turn into a sailor in a matter of moments.
posted by greekphilosophy at 10:14 AM on June 2, 2009 [20 favorites]


Have you tried spanking?
posted by wfrgms at 10:24 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ignore, ignore, ignore.
Practice by putting him in plenty of situations at home where he would say it. And ignore. Deadpan voice and poker face. When he does it at Target, physically turn your back on him in a nonchalant way and contemplate the profound mysteries of Palmolive. When he does it at home, ask your spouse sweetly about their day or leave the room. No one who has kids thinks you swear like sailors. If you're mortified about it happening in church, you might avoid that until the thrill has worn off for him. But a week of cold turkey should do it.

When my now-4-year-old use to have tantrums, I settled in for the long haul by pulling out a book or magazine and saying, "It looks like you're having a tough time with something. I know you can work it out. I'm right here if you need me or want help calming down." And then I would sit down nearby to read. Actually, I think I would make a few stabs at helping out first ("Let's take some deep breaths," or "You seem frustrated because you can't choose both things"), but after about 5 minutes of that, it was pull-out-the-book time. We went through about two months of tantrums and even though they're hard, IMO they're a lot easier if you're spending your energy on the recovery side of things and not on the controlling side of things. Of course, you have to have the time and imperturbability to let them play out.
posted by cocoagirl at 10:34 AM on June 2, 2009 [10 favorites]


Bathroom words required an immediate trip to the bathroom...because that was the only place my toddler was allowed to say them. No yelling, no shocked reaction, just a matter-of-fact side trip until she got it out of her system. Every time. That got boring real quick, particularly because I stood outside the door and she had no audience. No drama and very effective; one of my better parenting moments!
posted by firelizard at 10:35 AM on June 2, 2009 [5 favorites]


Can you explain what discipline you are using?
posted by Happydaz at 10:37 AM on June 2, 2009


Nthing not reacting as way of preventing a fresh word "sticking" with your toddler... that's probably less helpful once it has stuck though.
posted by Artw at 10:39 AM on June 2, 2009


When my kids were that age, we had some success telling them that they were mispronouncing another word. They started saying "damn". We told them that they were saying it wrong and that it was actually pronounced "darn". This worked. You could try something along these lines.

They're a little older now (5) and have predictably heard many more bad words (Boston traffic, etc.) We've told them that if an old person heard them (or any other little kid) say one of the really bad words ("Fuck" et al.) the old person could die. This has also worked so far.
posted by originalname37 at 10:44 AM on June 2, 2009 [6 favorites]


Also, the "not reacting" advice here is good. I've found that finding a less-undesirable substitute activity and reacting strongly to *that* helps to make this even more effective. Like if one of them is having a screaming tantrum we say "It's no big deal as long as she doesn't start screaming into the pillow..." She immediately holds the pillow to her face and screams into it. We go nuts: "Now she's really done it! Oh my god what are we going to do?!?" But it's actually really quiet and nice since the pillow absorbs the sound.

Maybe a made-up substitute word that gives her the attention she wants without inviting ridicule and scorn upon her parents could help.
posted by originalname37 at 11:00 AM on June 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


Great thread so far, thank you! Think at this point I'm stuck on the issue of ignoring it vs. discipline for it. So if he's definitely got the idea and remembers it now...probably ignoring it isn't an option now?

@bluedaisy Discipline being timeouts. He goes to his room and has to sit down for 2 minutes.

@jamaro lol just so you know we're now implementing this one, great idea. I wonder if I should let him watch an edited version of the Soprano's and dub it w/ YOGURT! over and over.

@firelizard Like the idea re: bathroom words belonging in the bathroom. Accomplishes both a timeout and saving you the parent from further embarassment when out in public.

@headnsouth I can't wait to embarass him when he's 13. I'm going to go around raving about how the Shins were so cool to all his friends.

Definitely keep the ideas rolling in, I'm feeling inspired. I'm off to drop stuff on my toe and exclaim loudly about dairy products...
posted by mikee at 11:05 AM on June 2, 2009


Regarding jamaro's suggestion--MeFites really came through for me when I asked for things to say instead of swear words.

I have explained to Boy MonkeyToes that certain words ("like the one you just said, honey") make adults upset because MOST ADULTS HAVE NO SENSE OF HUMOR. And that said adults would be very, very angry with him ("spanking angry, honey") and very, very disappointed if they heard him use those particular words. And that they wouldn't let their children play with him anymore. If he wants to say them, he can say them quietly, to himself, in his bedroom behind a closed door. The cuss words (infrequent anyhow) have definitely fallen off.
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:07 AM on June 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


When I was a small child, my mother and grandmother were teasing me a little after a long day.
"Do you want to go to the grocery store now?"
"Hell no!" I crankily snapped.

They immediately burst into laughter.
"Did you hear what she said?" "Trying to sound big, huh?" etc.

I felt so humiliated and ashamed I never forgot it.
Effective, but scarring...not cool. Ignoring it would have been better.
posted by aquafortis at 11:12 AM on June 2, 2009


We give our children a swat on the back of the hand for willful disobedience after a warning.

Child: "Fuck!"
Me: The next time you say that, you're going to get a swat."
Child: "Fuck!"
Me: I told you you would get a swat if you said that word.
*swat*

This is the only form of corporal punishment we use. It rarely has to get deployed because the warning reminds them that swats are no fun. We've found it to be an effective method of discipline.

Your mileage may very, but our kids were able to understand this when they were between 2 and 3 years old.
posted by DWRoelands at 11:15 AM on June 2, 2009


I do not recommend hitting kids for stupid little transgressions like this- they will remember you treating them like that and they will hit you later, possibly when they're bigger and stronger than you are.

If it's past the point where not reacting will work, I think MonkeyToes is on to something.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:20 AM on June 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


What sucks the most is most other parents assume his mom and I swear like sailors.

Nah, probably not. I'm a parent of little kids, I spend 95% of my time around other parents of little kids (sigh). We've all had kids swear / drop their pants / pretend to shoot the teacher / etc. at inappropriate times.

Don't hit your kid because he's swearing unless you want him to know that this word really gets your attention. Ignore it and he'll forget it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:25 AM on June 2, 2009


When I was about 6 I went through a phase of saying Fuck and Christ, I got battered at the time, but it took a while for me to stop. Frankly I haven't a clue as to what made me start, there wasn't a lot fo swearing at home, not do I know what would have been an effective way to make me stop. You will be glad to know I have since got back into the habit, so perhaps violence is not an effective strategy in the long term. I do have an abiding deference to authority figures in my swearing though, in that I do it less around them, so perhaps some conditioning stuck.
posted by biffa at 11:28 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


In my house, when my daughter started picking up the odd adult word, I sat her down and explained that some words in the home or around mommy and daddy. She picked up on the idea of using certain words at the right time, in the right context, and we haven't had any problems since.

That dealt with the immediate problem, and since then her mom and I have done our best to watch our language too.
posted by lekvar at 11:30 AM on June 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


mikee: ...probably ignoring it isn't an option now?

It's never too late to start ignoring it. It might take him a little while to learn that saying fuck doesn't have the same payoff (your attention), but he'll eventually stop saying it in favor of whatever it is that does have that payoff. Sounds like a good time to cuddle up on the couch with a copy of something silly like Where the Sidewalk Ends!
posted by headnsouth at 11:36 AM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Every parent needs to make their own choices about discipline. Some children respond to "positive discipline", some don't. Some children respond to corporal punishment, some don't. Every parent needs to figure out what will work for their children.

That being said, I don't think that a swat on the back of the hand equates to "violence".
posted by DWRoelands at 11:39 AM on June 2, 2009


I do not recall this, but I am told that the entire family (save for my sister) absolutely fell apart laughing when my step brothers would get 3-year-old me to call my sister a "dumptruck". Needless to say, it didn't come out sounding exactly right...
posted by milqman at 11:59 AM on June 2, 2009


What are some ways of diffusing the situation with people in public or other less humorous parents or relatives? Like just today he said it at a playdate with other kids. At the store we tried just yelling "frog" to mask his giddy profane shrieks like we're going to go find a frog toy or something...but you can see how that doesn't work when his mom and him are at another mom's house for a playdate.
posted by mikee at 12:09 PM on June 2, 2009


Your son says a word, and then his parents dance around shouting other words -- what a fun game! You've made it incredibly attractive for him to say this word.

Time-outs aren't working, and your frog dances aren't either. You seem awfully worried about what other people will think.

I say, stop reacting. That's the only way I can see you're going to end this behavior.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:17 PM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think the more relaxed YOU can be as parents about the situation, the better. If you feel you need to explain things to other adults, you can just say "boy, he picked that word right up and at first, we reacted really sharply when he would say it but we realized how much that was reinforcing his likelihood of repeating it over and over! So we're trying not to react to it so that he won't get such a kick out of saying it anymore, and then stop saying it altogether" etc. -- that's really all you need to do, if you feel like you really need to say something to people. Compared to hitting other children or like poking them in the eyes or something, this is seriously minor. :)
posted by so_gracefully at 12:19 PM on June 2, 2009


Are you sure there's a situation that needs to be diffused? Is the other mom honestly offended by a two-year-old yelling a bad word that he doesn't understand? If so, are you sure you want to hang out with her? As far as family -- dang, if your relatives are judging your toddler this way, things are going to get really interesting when adolescence comes around.

I think you're making it worse by being all exciting and interesting when he does it. He's learning that if he says "fuck," you'll start yelling "frog." Yeah! Do it again! Do it again!

I know it's embarrassing. Trust me, I've faced embarrassing childrearing situations I wouldn't wish on my enemy (I have only one). Try to relax. Treat it like any other squawking: if he's disrupting church, leave the room because he's noisy. But if he's just shouting in the playground, take a look at the other parents there -- I bet they're grinning.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:23 PM on June 2, 2009


nthing ignore - doesn't matter where you are or what you're doing - if he gets a reaction, he's going to keep on keepin' on. If he doesn't get anything out of it, it's lost it's allure.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:44 PM on June 2, 2009


When I was four years old, a neighborhood friend of mine told me about this word "fuck". He said that it was a bad word, and that I shouldn't say it. Perplexed, I said "why is that word bad?" He didn't know. I noticed that it rhymed with "duck" and much to the annoyance of my pal, I started saying the word over and over. Then, while we sat on the front porch, I started shouting it. "FUCK! FUCK! FUUUUUUCK!" Now my little friend was starting to get scared. I kept yelling FUCK! My Dad appeared on the porch and told me to stop it. After that I was no longer allowed to be friends with that boy.

The punishment was meaningless, since I had no idea what the word referred to. The REAL dirty words to me at that point were "pee pee" and "poo poo".

To get your kid to stop, just make it a requirement that he says it. Like "did you say your fucks today? C'mon, let's hear 'em."
posted by telstar at 12:59 PM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I agree that it is never too late to start ignoring. But you have to ignore consistently. I love substituting another word by modeling it as you inadvertently did "Fuck." Great idea.

I am an ex-kid's therapist, and I have seen first hand how dropping the "discipline" of hitting and finding things to praise whilst ignoring bad behavior works. If hitting truly worked, why would a parent have to do so repeatedly for the same bad behavior? Think about how quickly your child picked up you modeling saying "Fuck." I know you guys don't say this a bunch, and the kid "got it" quickly. How many spankings does it take for the kid to "get" that hitting is what one does when someone does something they don't like? Having a potty mouth on the play ground is better than having a bully.
posted by thebrokedown at 1:02 PM on June 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, just relax and ignore it. He'll stop when he's no longer getting any attention, bad or good. Anyway, he's two - he has the attention span of a gnat and in a week, if you completely ignore him when he's saying it, he will have forgotten all about it and moved on to some other way to get you to react. Two year olds are all about control - they are just now learning how to control and change their environment. You're a very important part of their environment and the more they can make you jump around, the more power and control they have.

Kids who are consistently acting out at this age in inappropriate ways may not be getting enough power and control in appropriate things, like what they want to wear, what they want to eat, what story they're going to read. I'm not saying give them full reign, I'm saying give them a choice of two or three options. It makes them feel grownup and important and may help diminish some of the less fun traits of terrible twos.

Tantrums? Remove child from scene. Place child in safe place. Tell child you love them. Step away and let child have tantrum. When tantrum is over, resume daily activities.
posted by mygothlaundry at 1:07 PM on June 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think it's funny that you're embarrassed by this. My mother long ago gave up on trying to get her children to watch their language. My little brothers and I curse like it's our job. She gets mad and tries to shame us into not cursing, but we just say something like "Aw fuck mom, stop being such a cunt." Which, you think would be a bad idea, but it makes her crack up every time. My poor mother, she cannot enforce discipline because her children are too hilarious.
posted by runcibleshaw at 1:09 PM on June 2, 2009 [3 favorites]


Can't read all this stuff. I stalled at the "swat" bit.

Basics 1) Don't use the word yourself.
Basics 2) If toddler uses it, point out that you actually don't ever use it, has he noticed...? Like, 'we actually don't say words like this here'. Kids understand that kind of thing.
Basics 3) The twisted logic of bathroom timeouts for bathroom words is nothing that one should familiarize one's children with. If the word is not to be used, it's not to be used in the bathroom either, solitary or otherwise.
Basics 4) As others wrote, kids between 3 and 5 tend to ignore what they 'understand' but have great fun trying to provoke their parents and test their mental strengths. There's nothing "perverse" about this, it's a course-of-nature thing. This is when your "ignore" ought to kick in. "Ignore" is for repeated provocative look-me-being-cool "fuck"'s in your face. One could also look innocent and say "can't hear you". "The louder you shout the less I can hear you." "That's what you get with words that don't even exist here at home" etc. Okay, sometimes one has no energy to play around like that: The way to work around an escalation of power involves setting clear boundaries about when you get annoyed with the situation as such, (as opposed to getting annoyed with the repeated use of the word): 'look, you've been shouting into my ear for half an hour now, I'm losing my nerve, go to your room' (or whatever). Timeouts work poorly if they are wielded in a calculated fashion "for discipline". But if you save your breath (and manipulating skills) until you seriously and genuinely need a timeout yourself, you might make some kind of an impression. Genuine wins.
Basics 5) Don't swat.
Basics 6) Stop worrying about what language other people think you're using at home. At least stop making this worry a thing that influences the education of your kid. You'll be fine with other people. Also, they go away, you kids stay. Deal with your kids.
Basics 7) Don't even think the thought of wanting to embarrass your teenager with stuff you couldn't sort out when he was a toddler. What kind of a game will this be? What will he think of to embarrass you with when he's 23? This is not the way to go.
Basics 8) It helps to explain stuff to your kids, as opposed to giving mere directives (no matter how well-thought-out they may be).
posted by Namlit at 1:32 PM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did people look at you like the scum of the earth when he was throwing a tantrum at Target, too?

Most of us are not looking at you like you're the scum of the earth. We are just thanking our lucky stars that our kids' toddler days are over and we don't have to drag a screaming kid around Target anymore. Those looks are looks of compassion, fellow parent.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 2:31 PM on June 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know that some may react strongly to this, but when I said that word at about that age, my mother washed out my mouth with plain old non-toxic Ivory soap. It tastes disgusting, and didn't do me any harm (and had a real semantic connection to the wrong thing I was doing).

I also didn't say that word again until I was about 13 or 14, even when all the other kids were. I still only say it in fairly extreme moments. Some memories last.
posted by jb at 2:40 PM on June 2, 2009


NB: She did warn me before I said the word, and I did it anyways to test her.
posted by jb at 2:40 PM on June 2, 2009


Your child is performing the extremely valuable service of providing people with adorable-stories-about-children-not-my-own. I know if I was sitting in church and someone's toddler suddenly stood up to announce "fuck!" I would tell that story to everyone I know, and everyone I know would have a matching story to counter it with. (I do in fact have a story of an adorable child saying this word in a completely random setting and apropos of nothing. One of my favorite stories. The mother at the time was horrified, but the rest of us just cracked up.)
posted by nax at 3:26 PM on June 2, 2009 [2 favorites]


Our daughter did this quite a bit at around 20 months. When she said "shit" we calmly responded "Oh, you want to sit? Ok." and popped her on the nearest chair. "Fuck" got her "Oh, you want a fork? Ok. But I don't have a fork right now." Boring response = not worth doing.

She just turned 2 & I can't remember the last time she said either of these words. It's much more fun to torment the pets than to have to sit on the sofa or hold silverware.
posted by belladonna at 4:28 PM on June 2, 2009


Not reacting will be the hardest thing - even a smile, a muffled laugh, or an eye roll allows the kid to think "Ah ha! This is a game!"

I know from watching a relative's children - one child latched onto screaming "no way!" at the top of his lungs instead of saying no. And - unfortunately for them - they laughed at it the first few times - we all did, as the child was being funny and waving his arms around. Then - after the 100th time, after his parents had mimicked him a few times too - they suddenly realized this was going to stick. So that if he didn't want something he would go into screams of "no way!" with arm waving - very very NOT funny in public places, and for the zillionth time. (Note: also dancing on top of tables can be a bad thing to laugh at and accidentally encourage. I wouldn't have even thought about how you can get into trouble by just laughing at behavior before that!) Ignoring was what seemed to fix that situation, in the end.
posted by batgrlHG at 5:12 PM on June 2, 2009


Ignore, ignore, ignore. Repress both your "wow, that's funny" and your "oh, I'm so embarrassed" reactions.

The idea to offer other expletives is a good one, too. Do this by using it yourself. Make it funny.
posted by not that girl at 5:35 PM on June 2, 2009


My two year old grandson cannot pronounce the "q" in quack, so when you ask him what sound a duck makes, instead of "quack" he goes...well, the f-bomb.

I think the best thing to do is ignore it and distract him. Anyone who has ever been around two year olds will understand, and everybody else? Well, they don't matter.

(full disclosure, I am the epitome of Church Lady and do not approve of swearing. But kids say the darndest things...)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:04 PM on June 2, 2009


Ignore your child when he does it. If anyone calls you on his swearing tell them to, "Fuck off".
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:16 PM on June 2, 2009


The kid does it because it's a sound that gives him power over adults. The less the adults realize this (or, for that matter, the less thought they've given to why this sound holds such power over them and their reactions), the more overblown the reactions to the kid tossing together some random morphemes that indicate something he has no concept of at this age to begin with.

Cuss words are a funny thing. They aren't inherently offensive, but some people are looking to be offended if at all possible.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:39 AM on June 3, 2009


Is it no longer appropriate to stick soap in a child's mouth? I'm not suggesting it if that's not the kind of discipline you're into, but I disctinctly remember the taste of Ivory....

Which leads to my lesson in the value kids can place on your reactions. When I was little, my mom had a boyfriend named Chuck, who I really liked. One evening, before he came over, I was racing around the house yelling out words that rhymed with "Chuck," since I was so excited that he would soon be over. "Buck, Buck, Buck." "Cuck, Cuck, Cuck." "Duck, Duck Duck." "Fuck, Fuck, Fu...." Then my mom came tearing around a corner wanting to know where I learned that word. I explained that it rhymed with "Chuck," just like "Guck, Guck, Guck" and "Huck, Huck, Huck." She told me it was a very bad word and never to say it again.

So of course, next time I argued with her, I screamed "fuck" at the top of my lungs (since I knew it was a bad word and I was such a little rebel). As I recall, she crammed a handy bar of soap in my mouth while in the middle of a wide-open scream.

Lesson learned: Knowing it's a naughty word won't stop a child from using it, especially if the child learns that just saying it can piss of parents. There have to be some consequences, though out of sympathy I'd discourage soap and go with taking away a toy or something.
posted by motsque at 6:28 AM on June 3, 2009


they will remember you treating them like that and they will hit you later, possibly when they're bigger and stronger than you are.

You know its funny, my parents used physical punishment on my 5 siblings and I, and all of us grew up to be bigger and stronger than them, and yet none of us have ever hit our parents.

I wonder what they did wrong.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:57 PM on June 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't like hearing little kids swear so what I'm doing with mine is enforcing the whole idea that there are certain words that are 'grownup' words. Gives them something to look forward to. My kids have certainly heard the swear words (we have a tv) so I've let them know, if they say one or they ask about one, that they're words that are considered very rude and could make people angry and only adults get to decide whether to use them or not. You get to avoid the whole hypocrisy thing (you say it, why can't I?) because the natural reply to that is that they'll get to say it when they're old enough, until then, unacceptable. Obviously, this would probably only work with really little kids. When your kid is old enough to be hearing it everywhere (as they will, kids being kids away from their parents at school and such) they'll decide when to use it and there really won't be much you can do about it apart from telling them not to say it in front of you because it really offends you, and hope that they care and if they say it in front of someone else and get told off for it then it's not as if they didn't have prior warning.

So, obviously your kid is saying it a lot. I'd reinforce the whole 'no, that's not a word you can say, that's a grownup word woo woo (little kids still think that grownups are impressive) and if they still keep saying it then if they're at playgroup you take them out of the game or wherever, at Target you have to be prepared to say we're leaving and you don't get your new outfit or toy or to look at the things or whatever it is that your kid is looking forward to and mean it (like, actually leave if the kid is still misbehaving after the warning - you can relent later if they repent enough.. )

That's my method, anyway. My kids (4 and nearly 8) don't swear and I'm looking forward to seeing how long it lasts. Maybe this could work for you?
posted by h00py at 3:54 AM on June 4, 2009


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