You are staring into the eyes of your sweet, angelic toddler when all of a sudden… They drop the F-bomb. “How could I have let this happen?!” and, “What did I do wrong?!” are probably your two immediate thoughts (right after you needed to take a couple of seconds to process what they just said). Don’t be so quick to panic! Yes, it is probable that your kid has heard you swear while driving in traffic or when you stubbed your toe, but you simply can’t control everything that your child is exposed to in the outside world. Furthermore, this is the time that your curious kid is exploring language, so they will often test words to discover their meanings. However, no parent wants to hear this kind of language come out of their precious toddler’s mouth, especially at the tender age that they are at. Here’s an effective guide to help you stop your potty mouth toddler from cursing:
Despite How Hard It May Be, Ignore It
Don’t even let your jaw drop when the word comes out of your kid’s mouth (and definitely, don’t laugh). If you give a reaction, your kid will use it as a reinforcer to do it again. They want your attention, and they will try to get it any way that they can. Pretend that you did not hear them say anything at all, and they will become disinterested and move on.
Find Out the Source, then Respond
When ignoring the problem does not work and your child continues to swear, then it is time to do something about the situation…
First, calmly ask your kid where they heard the word. If they heard it from a certain television show, be extra cautious to keep that program off of the television. It is very possible that they may say it was from you, but you don’t recall ever saying the word around them. Kids see and hear a lot more than you think they do, so be cognizant of what you say and where they are when you say it.
After figuring out the source, use a very matter-of-fact tone with them when saying, “That word upsets people, and we do not say words that upset other people”. Simply saying that the word is “bad” will only tempt them to want to say it more. On the other hand, thoroughly explaining to them the meaning of the word may open up a whole new world about swear words and make them more curious about the topic, and they are too young for that. This straightforward response is the perfect middle ground.
Emphasize the Value of Respect
If you firmly instill the values of respect and politeness in your kids as they grow up, they will more easily understand why cursing is not okay, and thus avoid it. After telling them that swearing upsets other people or that name calling is disrespectful, they will morally choose to not do it.
So, your toddler uttering a swear word is not a reflection of your parenting. This is very common during this time of constant learning for toddlers. Since children can pick up these words anywhere, it is impossible to guarantee that it will not happen to your toddler. If you do find that your toddler has developed some sort of potty mouth, use this guide to put an end to their swearing.