How should I handle profanity?

All ten-to thirteen-year-olds use profanity at times. They may curse, as adults do, out of frustration, anger, or sudden pain. They may use profanity when they’re with friends as a way to feel part of the group or to act older. It’s easy for kids to learn profanity—they hear it on TV and CDs, in movies, and from peers and parents.

Most adults don’t like to hear kids swear. They may tolerate their own child’s occasional outburst but otherwise feel that cursing at these ages is rude and disrespectful. Many parents set firm limits: “You’re not allowed to use that language here.” “I don’t talk that way and I don’t want you to.” “Don’t ever use those words around adults.”

Children who are generally secure and know their parents’ expectations are not likely to use excessive profanity. One twelve-year-old said she wouldn’t curse a lot, even if her parents said she could: “I know you don’t like it.” Some ten- to thirteen-year-olds ask permission before using profanity: “I have to tell you what this kid said in school. Can I say the ‘b’ word?” After a losing soccer game, a frustrated player asked, “Is it all right to cuss now?”

Parents can usually limit profanity at home, but they have less control when their child is with peers. Experimenting is common, and he wants to be like his friends. If they use profanity, he will also.

One eleven-year-old told his mother, “Kids cuss all the time at camp. Everyone does it when they aren’t around their parents.” After school vacation, another child said, “I’ll be back with my friends, so I’ll probably start cursing again.” It’s common for kids to tell each other dirty jokes and to use profanity, especially with friends of the same sex. However, most children of these ages know it’s unacceptable to speak the same way in front of adults.

Some kids, though, don’t get clear messages about cursing. Their parents might use a lot of profanity themselves or may not communicate values. Children who don’t learn limits at home are likely to be reprimanded by other adults, including teachers, coaches, and their friends’ parents, “Please watch your language.”

If you generally feel good about your child’s behavior, try to accept occasional profanity. Continue to set limits and discuss standards of behavior. Remind him that cursing is not appropriate social behavior. Modify your own language. If you frequently curse, he will follow your example. Also, limit his exposure to movies, TV shows, and music that contain bad language.

 If he continues to use profanity, ask yourself if underlying problems are causing him anger and stress. He may be cursing in order to express his frustration. If he’s having trouble with schoolwork, peers, family members, or self-esteem, setting limits on profanity will not improve his situation. You’ll have to identify and begin to resolve his basic problems in order to see an improvement in his language.

Picture Credit : Google