What’s on your mind?
My seven-year-old son has been told off at school for swearing. He says he heard the rude word from a friend. How can I make sure it never happens again?
It can be a huge shock when you hear your child swear. Often it’s down to repeating a word they’ve heard without a clue to what it means, and in turn, they learn it’s a taboo that can help them get attention from parents and their school friends. It doesn’t help that when a swear word is used, it’s said with real expression, which makes it even more appealing.
It’s important you stay calm when you hear your child curse and definitely avoid laughing! If they know it’s a way to get attention, or to be funny, they’re likely to do it again. Also, if they’ve said the word out of anger, wait until a calmer time to talk about it. Scolding your child for using a word they probably don’t understand is not the way to go – instead, you need to carefully explain why it’s not a nice word to use and how it can hurt people’s feelings.
Children learn from their mistakes, so initially, your reaction should be measured. Create a sense of pride by saying ‘Our family doesn’t believe in using those words.’ But if the behaviour continues, then you need to take charge. Consider a swear jar or have a consequence like the loss of a treat. But also, remember to reward your child if they’ve avoided the word or acted appropriately in a situation where it’s been used.
Set a good example
Avoid using bad language around your children and monitor the TV or films they watch. It’s very hard to discipline your kids for doing something you’re doing, so if you do accidentally swear, then quickly apologise. Explain that words can hurt just as much as actions and perhaps come up with a funny alternative to use instead to use at frustrating times.
War of words