Kids are increasingly using language that adults may find objectionable especially when it comes from the mouths of children. Overall, society has taken a more relaxed attitude about swearing than a generation ago, but many parents still do not like to hear their children using foul language.
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Setting the Standard
Oftentimes, parents are unaware of the types of examples that they are setting for their children when it comes to using appropriate language. Many adults routinely swear, making curse words commonplace in their homes. Unfortunately, children are the best little mimics and will certainly pick up the words that they hear their parents using. Swearing as a reaction to a disappointing or stressful situation may seem harmless enough to adults, but every time that a parent curses about traffic or a tight deadline at work, their children get the impression that such language is acceptable.
Parents who wish to raise kids who never swear must make an effort to curb such language habits in themselves and require that guests refrain from using foul language around their children. If the adults in a household routinely swear, they may be able to get their children to understand that such language is not acceptable from the kids, at least while they are very young. Sooner or later, however, the children will come to see swearing simply as a part of normal verbal communication.
Choosing Appropriate Vocabulary
Kids (and the rest of us) need to have words that we can use when they are feeling angry or frustrated, but children need guidance from their parents as to which words are deemed appropriate. Each family must set its own limitations, with some choosing very stringent restrictions while others may be comfortable with a bit of flexibility. It’s important that children are made clear on the expectations so that they can learn to work within their parents’ rules. While there are some words that most would consider swearing, other, milder “curses” are not frowned upon in some families. It’s up to parents to establish guidelines for their own children.
Consequences for Swearing
Like all behaviours that parents would like to control in their children, negative consequences for disobeying household rules about swearing are usually fairly effective ways to encourage cooperation. Obviously, rewards and punishments must vary according to the ages of the children and their level of maturity and understanding. When very young children swear, they are usually simply repeating something that they’ve heard, so ignoring the behaviour or mentioning casually that such words are “not nice” is usually enough. As kids age, though, they are capable of understanding what is expected of them and need to be held accountable for their actions. School aged children, pre-teens, and teenagers all have the ability to abide by their parents wishes regarding appropriate language, especially at home.
Punishments, from removal of special privileges to restriction of activities can work, but parents not only need to make kids aware of what the consequences would be for swearing, but they must also be consistent about following through once they’ve established household guidelines. Kids are quick to learn whether or not they can actually expect the promised consequences, so parents must be careful to be true to their word. Idle threats never work for very long.
Presenting a Positive Image
Even in households where the standard of appropriate language is fairly lenient, children need to know that others outside of the family may consider swearing to be disrespectful and unacceptable. Many people, even those who have no particular opposition to swearing, view it as lazy speech, giving the impression that the child (or adult, for that matter) has a limited vocabulary and has trouble expressing themselves in an intelligent manner. At the very least, children should understand that when they choose to swear, they are presenting themselves in a way that may be poorly received and that in certain places or circumstances, swearing is never acceptable.