Curse of a Swearing Toddler

By  on March 10, 2008
After all, having a toddler with a potty mouth is not something one boasts about at the play park.

But Daniel is not alone. Toddlers are learning and loving the power of language, and once in a while they stumble across a really ‘special’ word. A word that has power and makes grown-ups react. They don’t understand the meaning of what they’re saying; they need to take out the word and run it past a few people, just to check it out to see if they can figure out what it means, and how best to use it. In days gone by, there was a lot of soap being applied to kids’ tongues to wash out those bad words, but we’ve learned now that reaction only makes the words more powerful. Try as hard as we might, though, to not react when a toddler turns the air blue is quite a feat of self-control, but there are ways to avoid your toddler from sounding like Ozzy Osbourne.

STAY CALM
Remember that, to him, it’s just a word he’s soaked up from somewhere. Don’t yell and identify the word as horrible or you will have made the word much more important than it needs to be.

SUBSTITUTE THE WORD
If your two-year-old is singing a curse word, or repeating it absently, sing along but use a funnier, more interesting word that they can latch onto. Similarly, if he’s screaming it at a passing truck, use another, innocuous word in its place.

EXPLAIN THE PROBLEM
Perhaps, if he’s getting quite proficient with his new vocabulary and you’re about to see Gramma next week, it’s time to say, “That word is a word that hurts people’s feelings and we don’t say it.” Note of caution: toddlers are still little egos with legs and sticky hands. Empathy is not one of their strong suits.

CLEAN OUT YOUR OWN MOUTH
If it sounds like Gordon Ramsay lives at your house, chances are you’ll often be battling the curse monsters. Be careful, too, about what shows you have on the television. Toddlers, deep in play, are still absorbing everything around them.

We can’t isolate our children from swear words, but we can be prepared with something more than a stick of Ivory soap. Bottom line, don’t fret; children’s attention spans are short. He’ll be onto something new ‘darn’ soon. PC

March 10, 2008

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