My dear friend is a kindergarten teacher who once shared the following story with me. While taking her class to visit the local firehouse, the school bus stalled in traffic. One student, a normally soft spoken little boy suddenly shouted, “&%$*, &%$*!” and explained, “That’s what Daddy says to make the traffic go away.”
While this may seem amusing, it truly is not. Parents have to be very aware of the language they use because whenever you do something you don’t want your children to do, you can be sure they will copy it. Even if your home is four letter word free, your kids will hear cursing, belching, and much more from their friends at school and on the playground. Psychologists say it’s no surprise that children mimic words and phrases. “That’s just language learning. These words have no special status as taboo words,” says Paul Bloom, Ph.D., of Yale University. “Learning they’re taboo words is a later step.”
Children are using words to communicate instinctively. They don’t yet have the judgment to take a step back and think about whether a word is appropriate for a given situation.
To assist in removing these words from the home, state in a calm, unemotional reprimand, such as “We don’t use language like that.” If that doesn’t suffice, state “Go to your room and think about what you’re really trying to say.” Teach your kids to use alternative expletives when angry – “rubbish” and “rats” and when they say, “It sucks,” ask them to rephrase the sentence.
Experts advise parents to forget about trying to control their child’s language when they are not around them and concentrate on what kids say at the dinner table, to their face, and in public with other adults.