Here’s the latest anonymous question from one of my readers:
My kids are 9 and 6, and they’ve been swearing more lately. I try not to make a big deal about it lest they use the words more often to get attention, but some of the language they are “trying out” is truly inappropriate and offensive. Most of this happens at home with just our family around (thankfully). How do I address this in a manner that lets them know it isn’t right and does not give any incentive to continue swearing?
This is a great question, and a really f*cking annoying problem to have to deal with. (HA! See what I did there?!)
Seriously, though, there are steps you can take to clean up your kids’ potty mouths. Here are a few ideas:
First, you need to get crystal clear on why the swearing bothers you. Some folks curse, others don’t, and different parents have different levels of tolerance for dirty words coming from the mouths of their little angels. The truth is that there is no right or wrong here (assuming your kids know enough not to hurt other people’s feelings or blurt the s-word in the middle of class or during church or whatever), but you do need to be honest about where you and your parenting partner (if you have one) come down on this issue.
If you do swear from time to time, but prefer your kids don’t, that might make it more challenging to curb their tendencies. That’s not to say it will be impossible, of course; you are allowed to have different rules for adults and kids. It will be trickier, though, because the more kids hear swear words, the more likely they will be to say them (which means you also need to be thoughtful about what they’re watching on TV), and every time they hear you drop a bomb, you’ll hear about it from them.
You can read the rest of my advice over on my PsychCentral.com Mindful Parenting blog.