Holy shoot! How to handle a swearing toddler

Kinderling News & Features

Your toddler’s first swear word is always a shock to the system, especially if they drop it in public or at Grandma’s house. Fingers crossed it’s a one-off offence (a mispronunciation of ‘truck’, perhaps?) but if the cursing continues, here’s seven tips to banish the bad language before it gets out of hand.

1. Don’t panic

First up, don’t stress out too much about it. Your toddler’s swearing is not a reflection on you, and it doesn’t mean you’re raising a deviant child. It’s normal for children to test out different words as their vocabulary expands, and trying out toilet words and swear words is part of this. It is another one of those toddlers phases that will pass.

2. Avoid making a fuss

One of the best ways to deal with swearing toddlers is to stay calm and hold onto your poker face – even if you’re dying to laugh or freak out. Toddlers will often test out words to see what attention they bring them, and if you act like it’s a non-event, they’ll soon get the message that there’s no point in continuing to use the words, because they’re falling on deaf ears.

3. Don’t egg them on

Let’s face it, toddlers make everything cute and funny, and throwing out a swear word is no exception to this. But while it can be tempting to laugh and have them demonstrate their new word for daddy or grandma, this will only serve to reward your toddler for the show and inform them that swearing is a good thing to do.

4. Monitor your own language

Swearing might be normal for lots of adults, and some of us might not even realise how often the words come out of our mouths – or who’s listening to them. I know ‘FUDGE’ really doesn’t have the same effect, but if you think your toddler has picked up the swearing from you or your partner, it might be time to look for some alternate words to express your frustration.

5. What’s your toddler listening to?

It’s probably also worth looking into what your toddler is watching and listening to throughout the day. Is it a TV show on in the background, or some music that might be encouraging the word choices in your child? Or is your child listening to other children who are also experimenting with colourful language?

6. Try talking about it

If your toddler’s swearing is happening more often than you care for, and is old enough to benefit, you could try having a conversation with them about why swear words aren’t appropriate. For example, you could explain the difference between ‘nice’ and ‘bad’ words, and how the latter could upset other people. You could then offer praise when your toddler uses nice words or is particularly kind to someone else. Positive reinforcement for good behaviour tends to work better than punishment.

7. Encourage healthy anger release

If your little one is prone to swearing when they feel angry, you can help by encouraging some other ways to release anger that are a little more friendly, such as expressing it with appropriate words, or actions that are acceptable to you. For example, encouraging your toddler to stomp around when they’re frustrated or to recognise when they’re angry and verbalise it, knowing that you will be there to help them process it.

This article was originally published on Babyology.