10 Ways to Avoid Kids Cussing up a Storm

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Unless a child grows up in an exceptionally sheltered home, chances are good that they’ll let a curse word or two fly at some point. Whether they’re little ones experimenting with language they don’t understand, or going through a rebellious streak as they get a bit older, parents will almost inevitably be faced with the need to curb the use of a few choice words. Here are a few tricks to help keep the language in your home from offending delicate sensibilities.

  1. Be Prepared – The first step to keeping your kids from cursing fluently is to be prepared in advance. As children learn to speak, they also learn to mimic the adults in their lives to a startling degree of accuracy; whether it’s absorbed from television or a coarse-tongued relative, anything they hear will eventually be parroted.
  2. Don’t Panic – Though hearing foul words from young mouths can be shocking, it’s important not to panic. When younger children see you get flustered, they learn that those words get a strong reaction. Similarly, rebellious older kids will quickly realize that they can use profanity to get under your skin. Staying as calm as possible is one of the best lines of defense in either situation.
  3. Put it to Bed Quickly – Some advise newer parents to ignore foul language in hopes that kids will let it go on their own; the theory behind this method is that any reaction at all encourages the behavior. Experts advise, however, to quickly but calmly let a child know that such language will not be tolerated.
  4. Avoid the Temptation to Laugh – Often, an adult’s knee-jerk reaction to hearing a child curse is to laugh; even if they thoroughly disagree with using profanity, the sheer incongruity of hearing such words from innocent mouths can cause parents to laugh out of shock. Anyone who’s ever cared for a toddler knows, however, that behavior that elicits laughter will quickly become part of an attention-seeking little one’s repertoire.
  5. Explain “Bad Words” to Little Ones – Part of nipping bad language in the proverbial bud is to explain, as clearly as possible, the concept of “bad words” to kids. Very often, young children use an unfamiliar word without knowing that it has a negative connotation.
  6. Use a Swear Jar – If the grown-ups in the house are prone to fits of bad speech, it might be a good idea to institute a swear jar. Encouraging kids to point out bad language and remind adults of the consequences can help them to understand that certain words shouldn’t be used.
  7. Monitor Kids’ Favorite Shows – Though shows directed at children are almost always profanity-free, there is a bit of misleading programming on the airwaves. Animated series intended for adults can easily slip under the radar if you’re not a fan; make it a habit to watch television with your kids or to monitor what they’re watching as closely as possible.
  8. Correct Your Guests – For the occasional slip, a meaningful look or private conversation should be more than enough to get your point across. Habitual offenders, however, open themselves up for correction in front of the children. When kids see adults being corrected for using bad language, they’re less likely to be puzzled by why some words are okay for some people sometimes, but never for them.
  9. Withhold Privileges for Tweens and Teens – While toddlers and preschoolers almost always use bad language because they don’t understand the concept of swearing, older children that curse do so because they’re looking for a reaction. Keeping your temper in check and calmly revoking privileges is a great way to let them know that swearing isn’t an effective means of communication.
  10. Practice What You Preach – In addition to using a swear jar, it’s important to get yourself in the habit of monitoring your own speech. Even when your children aren’t present, being aware of your habits and modifying them accordingly is the best way to avoid a slip in front of little ears later.

With our world now filled with media avenues on all sides and much less censorship than in previous decades, teaching children appropriate language habits has become a necessity for most parents and at a much earlier age than in former generations.

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