As me and Amaya, my neighbour were chit chatting over an evening cup of coffee we heard the doorbell ring and there was Mrs. Malini from the 3rd floor furious about Rishi (Amaya’s son) cursing her son upon a silly fight during their play. Amaya all tensed and shocked to know that her 5-year-old has started using swear words. Amaya’s family is well-cultured and they address everyone with utmost respect. Amaya’s son Rishi goes to a school which is known for its discipline and culture. So, where could he possibly have acquired this vocabulary from?
The last thing you want is for your child to say a swear-word. But it’s uncanny to see that most children are learning how to use swearing at an early age.
When it comes to children swearing at an early age, there are a few things you should know.
Why do children use swear-words?
When very young children swear, it’s generally a matter of repeating things they’ve heard. You might have seen children having great fun calling someone else a ‘toilet’ or a ‘garbage’ or anything silly that makes no sense. They are not trying to hurt or offend anyone, but are just developing verbal skills that very largely a repetition of what they observe.
Where do they learn to swear from?
Identify the source of the bad language and limit its exposure to them. Is it that your child is hearing swear words on TV? or has been overhearing you using such words ignorantly? Preschoolers are keen observers, even when you think they aren’t. They pick up vocabulary anywhere they go and swear words are simply a natural part of that development.
No matter how much we try to protect them from hearing such words, the rise is unavoidable, however, when prevention fails, you can always turn to a cure - Speak To Them About It!
If they don’t hear the word from you, they’ll hear it elsewhere - televisions they watch, the music they hear, the playground, a friend's birthday party, anywhere they catch someone around them swearing and then, they’ll try them out at home. This is why it’s important to be aware of what language your child is exposed to. Once you learn of their language development progressing towards swear-words you need to adhere to means to resolve these right at the beginning.
What should a parent do when their little ones start repeating these?
As a parent, it usually takes us by surprise when our children use such language out of the blue. Parent’s action depends on the child’s age and their intent. Is the child using the word in the air or directing the term at a specific person? Whether the child’s intent is to express frustration or to hurt anyone? Is the child using them as a means of getting the attention of the adults around him, not knowing what the meaning or implication of the words actually is?
When you do hear your kids curse, by far the best way to respond is - CALMLY! With young kids, rightly said "the less attention paid, the better,” if you just ignore it, chances are that they won’t say it again. Be mindful of laughing or overreacting. He/she could use the word again to draw your attention or to get a reaction.
While on the other side older children usually watch people around them using these words and associate swear words to expressing anger or pain after being hurt. They start using it when they are unhappy or sometimes it’s merely to look cool among their friends. This can be dealt with, by trying to explain them that curse words can be offensive and might hurt someone’s feelings. If your child knows that swear-words are bad and is still using it, it’s a matter of bad behavior and may need to be disciplined when they use them.
P.S: Parents often worry that their children’s language and behavior will shape them into a bad person. Regardless of what language you use at home, sometimes children will pick up words and habits off route. Lay the groundwork for open dialogue, monitor the social environment, pattern of discipline and other crucial influences. Be watchful of the language and behaviour your child is being exposed to at all times, be it you, family, friends, screen-time or even the help around them. What they hear is what they speak so give their ears what fits them right.