Your pride and joy is building up his vocabulary beautifully – until one day you hear what sounds like a four-letter word uttered. And then you hear it again. How is it your lovely little toddler is suddenly a foul-mouthed curser? And what’s the best way to respond? Read on…
Today, with swearing happening on the radio, in songs, on TV, in the playground and, occasionally, at home, it’s only to be expected that toddlers will learn a few of the less polite words as they experiment with language.
But how are you meant to react when you hear your cherubic angel spew forth with an expletive? Many parents admit to laughing, possibly in shock, the first time they year it – and you can imagine what message that reaction gives to toddlers. They’ll be letting flying with curses whenever they get the chance. So once you’ve stopped laughing, what next?
First, don’t think toddlers don’t know what they’re doing. When they hear a swear word, especially ones used in frustration or anger, they may not know what it means but they do know its emotional attachment.
How to cut the cussing!
- Don’t over-react – this will let your child know swearing will get your attention.
- Find out why they’re swearing – are they just playing with the “naughty word” or are they frustrated or angry?
- Talk to your child about the rules – tell them calmly, without any sign of being too disturbed, “we don’t speak like that”.
- Remember, children are mimics – and you are their speech coaches, so watch your language around them.
- If they continue to use bad language – calmly remove them from the situation, take them home if you’re out and warn them that every time they speak like that there will be consequences.
- All toddler behaviour articles
- Kids swearing
- What to do when kids swear
- Why kids swear
- Toddler discipline
This article was written by Fiona Baker, former editor in chief of Mother & Baby, Pregnancy & Birth and Wondertime magazines for Kidspot, New Zealand's best resource for pregnancy and parenting.
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