What to do when your child swears

Young children are constantly reminding parents that they pay attention. They’ll do this in surprising ways, offering up new thoughts, actions, and especially words. Sometimes the choices are funny and impressive. Other times, what comes out of the mouths of children between ages 5 and 8 is not as adorable. Namely, they swear. It might be one word. They may not know what it means. You may not know where they heard it. Unfortunately, unwanted language is everywhere. “You can’t prevent them from being exposed to it,” says Jacqueline Sperling, PhD, clinical psychologist and instructor at Harvard Medical School. A 2013 study found that by 8 years old, children know 54 taboo words. At that age, the most frequently used words are along the lines of “stupid” and “god.” But by 11 and 12, there’s a shift where the top two become decidedly more adult-like. Children imitate swearing in others “Imitation is a big part of development,” Sperling says. Children see and hear what’s said after someone stubs their toe or yells at another driver, and they decide to try it. Part of this is emulating a sibling or parent; part is attention; part is the reaction. Does it get people upset or get a laugh? The feedback can be encouraging, which is why it’s good to remain initially neutral, she says. Home is also a safe place to get upset. That’s why children have meltdowns when they get back from school. After a day of...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Tags: Behavioral Health Children's Health Parenting Source Type: blogs

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