What to say if your child starts cussing
Sometimes even mom's best efforts to keep the language her child overhears clean can be thwarted: strangers in public can have harsh language, friends or family may not be as sensitive as you'd like, or TV and movies can surprise you when you least expect it. How do you respond when or if your young language-learner starts using language that's off-limits?
My oldest daughter stubbed her toe one day and "dropped the F bomb". She wasn't very old at thee time, but she was old enough to know that she had done something wrong. She looked at me with horror and waited for me to react. I told her that language like that was inappropriate for adults to use, and even less so for a child. I continued by telling her that I don't have a problem with her being aware of bad words (for a variety of reasons) but I expect her NOT to use them. My husband and I don't use a lot of foul language, but any is too much around a child. With that, I empowered her by telling her that if she ever cussed, I was going to call her on it, and that I would also allow her to call me on it. My husband didn't care for my agreement, but I told him that we shouldn't ask our kids to "do as I say, not as I do." We haven't had any more issues like that. However, I told both of my kids that if there was something they were thinking about saying that didn't seem right, whisper it to me, and I'd tell them whether or not it was ok. One one hand I empowered my daughter, and on the 2nd I let them feel safe talking to me.
Education, I feel is the key to anything. If I teach my kids that they will hear these words and when it is appropriate to use them and when it is not - they will be adults eventually and need this information. I never bring too much attention to it. If you over react it gives the words power. First off I call them angry words it is often what people say when they are angry... those that use it in their day to day speak show that they just aren't smart. All of this I tell my kids. They aren't adult words, kids on tv use them. Kids they admire and people that they admire will eventually slip and use one no matter how careful they are. I also let them know that some people like Grandma or friend's mom's would be really upset if they heard them saying something like this or that. Someone they really love and would never want to upset. Accept that they are going to try words out... words that might not be appropriate every where. Make it safe to try stuff out at home and then talk about the meaning of those words they hear and use so they will know where and when it is appropriate.
In my home I started classifying language into "hurting" words and "helping" words as soon as my children began to speak, of which cussing fell into the category of hurting words (along with secret, stupid, fat, idiot...etc). If words were used to make someone feel badly about themselves or to bully/control another then they were not to be used.
We also had explicatives (frack, sugar plum fairies, frig-a-jig) that could be substituted in times of frustration or anger. This was also a cue for me to comment, "you seem really frustrated/angry right now. Do you want to talk about it?" I also made sure to catch myself when I slipped up and admit that I used a "hurting word" as well as allow them to call me on it too.
Finally I made sure to let my children know: if they wouldn't do something (or say something) if I (or their grandparent, their teacher or a police officer) was standing next to them, then it's probably the wrong thing to do!
my son is now 5 so these words are popping up. The first 2 times I tell him its simply not a word he can say - grown ups can say them but he cannot. The first time I fully explain why its bad (hurt others feelings, ect) the second time is a reminder that its bad and that if he continues to use it, he will need to go to time out. so far its working good - he likes the fact that I sit down and explain things, works much better in my experience then simply saying its a bad word and he can't say it.
When I hear words that I do not like, I tell them immediately that "we do not talk like that in this house!" I make it clear what is acceptable. I guess time will tell what word choices they will use. I also try not to use curse words to set an good example. I don't want to be hypocritical. Some mild words can slide, but they KNOW which ones I HATE!!
I gently explained to my then 4yo after he dropped a choice word he had heard at kinder that there were some words that he would hear other people say but that weren't okay for our family to use. I told him that when he was a grown up, he could choose for himself if he wanted to say those words or not, but until then, I didn't want them said in our house. He accepted that and as new words have come up, we have added them to the list of those "unacceptable" words. I'll use the same method when my now 3yo starts kinder and my sister has used it successfully with her family too.
I coined the phrase, "Smart people don't swear." to basically let my boys know that the use of cuss words makes people look dumb (without actually saying that). I explain you fight better, and communicate better with words that are intellectual, thought provoking and challenging. Cuss words are non of the above.
Seriously....I just ignore it!
What else can you can say to a 2 year old?
as he gets no reaction, he just forgets about it!
I tell my kids those are naughty words like hate, stupid, dumb. and that we dont use them. They dont use the other words and if they one day do learn one or two of them I would say those are very bad words and young ladies dont use them.
I have managed to get my children to being 9 years old before they even heard a cussing word and it was outside they heard it. I pulled them in from the driveway and from thier 6 yr old "friend" and told the friend that if he ever wanted to play with my children again then he had better stop swearing especially on my property and within my childrens earshot. I have never heard any since. My in laws were everday cussers and from the minute my twins started babbling I warned them that if they wanted thier grandsons around them then the swearing was OUT and they have never sworn in front of my children. As well as disciplining your children you have to discipline the adults around you and more importantly YOURSELVES. If they dont hear it they wont use it. Simple!!!
My son just turned 5 last month & I have caught him a few times saying a few different swear words. It makes me really mad - at myself, because he would've picked them up from me! I often swear if I'm in a bad mood or hurt myself etc & it's only afterwards that I stop and go "I shouldn't of said that!" Now my son is starting to copy me, I'm really going to have to tone it down! He does know that it's wrong though, when I've caught him, the first thing he does is clap his hand over his mouth and says "ooh that's a bad word!"
The other day, my son repeated a curse word he had overheard again. He is only three, so I know I can only explain so much to him that he can understand. So, I updated an old technique of nixing cussing in children. Instead of washing his mouth out with soap, I squirted lemon juice in his mouth. It is harmless, but it tastes bad (to him anyway). He has not repeated that word since.