As new re­search shows more than half of UK par­ents are happy to swear in the pres­ence of their chil­dren, Emma says we need to de­cide on bound­aries and be re­al­is­tic

Closer (UK) - - Wellbeing -

Whether tread­ing on W a plug, or get­ting cut up on the road, swear­ing can be cathar­tic – but is it ever OK in front of kids? Re­search found that 52% of par­ents hap­pily use bad lan­guage in front of theirs, and 64% worry about the lan­guage their chil­dren use.


I don’t have a prob­lem with swear­ing gen­er­ally, but I don’t do it in front of my boys. Now they’re teenagers, they’ll hear a myr­iad of ex­ple­tives at school, but I’d pre­fer it if they didn’t as­so­ciate bad lan­guage with me. That said, I wouldn’t con­demn par­ents who do swear, pro­vided it’s con­tex­tu­ally ap­pro­pri­ate. Di­rect­ing foul lan­guage to­wards a child in anger or ag­gres­sion is never ac­cept­able, but us­ing an ex­ple­tive in shock or sur­prise is far more so­cially ac­cept­able. When it comes to other peo­ple’s kids, cur­tail the curses if you know that’s what their par­ents pre­fer – it’s sim­ply re­spect­ful.


We do lots of grown-up things in front of kids daily, from smooching our part­ner, to hav­ing a glass of wine af­ter work. We don’t need to wrap them up in cot­ton wool. The ma­jor­ity of re­search sug­gests their de­vel­op­ment isn’t neg­a­tively af­fected by ex­po­sure to bad lan­guage. If any­thing, it pre­pares them for what they will be ex­posed to in life. If you feel worried about your own lan­guage, though, there are strate­gies to try. Learn to “pause” in the heat of the mo­ment by breath­ing in for four sec­onds, hold­ing your breath for four, and breath­ing out for four.


Think about flash­points and ways avoid them; if you’re of­ten stressed in the morn­ings, get up ear­lier to al­low more time, and avoid a fran­tic rush be­fore school. If your young child swears, don’t laugh. Kids like noth­ing more than their par­ents’ at­ten­tion. Sim­ply say, “Don’t use that word please” and move on. If you swear, apol­o­gise and also ex­plain that cer­tain words are OK in some places, but not oth­ers – at home ver­sus at par­ents’ evening, say. Also try us­ing alternative words like “fudge”, “shoot” or “balls” when kids are in earshot. Sorted.

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