The most obvious and sometimes overlooked reason children swear is because they are hearing particular words used on TV or by others they spend time with. Don’t be afraid to discuss the use of swear words with loved ones if you feel they are not appropriate for your child to hear.
Also, do not be afraid to talk to your child about swear words. They can be confusing to a child who is just learning words and word meaning!
Notice when your child swears, maybe it is similar to when you find yourself using a choice word or two (e.g., when you are frustrated, overwhelmed, or simply do not have other words to express how you feel).
Offer alternatives for expressing the same emotional reaction. Offer other ways to explore words – some silly, some angry but not swearing, make up words! Experiment with the new or alternative words in situations that may cause the same feelings.
For example, if your child seems to swear when something gets stuck or does not work the way they expected, try setting them up for that situation but with you right there to guide them through it. Preview the situation first by saying “you might get frustrated, what words do you want to try using?”
If your child is using swear words because they specifically get a reaction from you or others, try altering your reaction. For example, instead of making a big deal about it, gently take your child aside, and discuss the word you just heard them say. For example, talk about how the word is spelled, what it rhymes with, and/or even talk about why some people can say they word and they can not. Having a less emotional reaction to what you heard, can help take the sails out of their use of “trigger” words.
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