It’s almost like your child saying his first words – you’ll never forget the day he utters a swearword, whether by accident or on purpose. Accountant, Amy Chong, 34, recalls she was on the phone with her boss while driving with her 5-year-old son in the backseat.
“It was a particularly stressful day at work and I didn’t mean to swear but in the heat of the moment, the word slipped out.” Needless to say, her son was quick to parrot her. Chong notes, “For the rest of the trip, he was repeating the word out loud in the car while asking me what it meant.”
It was a humiliating experience Chong would rather forget. “I’m just thankful that he did not repeat it in class. Who knows what kind of trouble that would have caused him to be in?”
Like smoking, your penchant for swearing can cause junior to follow suit. Sarah Chua, a parenting specialist with Focus on the Family, stresses that it’s vital you watch your own behaviour. “Parents should take heed to ensure that they refrain from speaking vulgarities to prevent children from emulating their behaviour.” Whether you were swearing by accident or not, you should immediately acknowledge your mistake and apologise before explaining why they shouldn’t repeat it.
“I’m just thankful that he did not repeat it in class. Who knows what kind of trouble that would have caused him to be in?”
While toddlers may pick up profanity as a result of mindless mimicry, your primary school child will likely be exposed to it on a regular basis. It’s not difficult for junior to come across vulgarities in the music he listens to or shows he watches, let alone on social media. What’s worse, junior may be mistaken that cursing is something he has to do, to be seen as “cool”.
It may appear harmless to swear by accident — after all it can happen to the best of us — but people who openly and actively swear can come across as crass and brash. Swearing also opens the way to even more aggressive behaviours as your child’s tolerance for acting out increases. So it’s important for you to remind and correct your kiddo’s potty mouth every chance you get. Try these tips…
1. Set family rules and consequences Involving your children in setting some house rules helps to nurture your child to be mindful about the way he behaves. List what sort of behaviour is acceptable — like showing respect by greeting grandparents when seeing them — and what isn’t — for example: using words or physically hurting others. Also make sure to talk about the consequences for not following the rules.
2. Set rules for gadget use at home Since there’s no getting away from social media and the internet, you need to monitor your child’s usage of his gadgets. Instead of snooping on his phone and social media presence, try putting in place restrictions on when and where he is allowed to use his gadgets. For instance, he can only use his laptop in the living room or dining area after dinner. He will be more mindful of the things he’s doing on his gadgets if he has to use them when others are around.
3. Don’t get angry It’s crucial that you refrain from becoming agitated or mad with junior when he launches into a profanity-laden tirade. Getting angry will only prove that he has power to control the way you react. Instead, make it clear to your kiddo that the use of such words will not be tolerated and you will only talk to him only when he’s calm. Then, walk away.
4. Have an open and honest conversation about vulgarities With the pervasive use of swearwords in the media nowadays, you should try to address the use of profanities early on. Chua says you should also talk to your kiddo about how the use of such words is disrespectful and wrong in any situation. Explaining the meaning behind swear words will help them realise how hurtful these words can be.
5. “Blip” yourself or express your anger in a productive way If you’re struggling to keep your own habit of swearing under control, you can start by first replacing the profanity with a similar sounding word, or “blipping” (say “beep” instead of the swearword) yourself. Chong found this method helpful in preventing her and her hubby from muttering swearwords. Better yet, Chong shares to channel your anger and stress into meditation or keeping a journal. What’s more, if the method works for you, it will likely work for junior, too.
“As much as possible, parents should ensure that the media content [accessed at home] is aligned with their family values and appropriate for their children.”
6. Protect your kiddo from unsavoury online content You may choose to install web-filters to ensure your child steers clear from accessing pornography or other questionable online content. All local telco companies offer the feature as an add-on service, check out: SingTel’s Family Protection, StarHub’s Junior Protect and M1’s Security Suite services. Chua explains, “As much as possible, parents should ensure that the media content [accessed at home] is aligned with their family values and appropriate for their children.”
7. Make use of teachable moments Chua notes, “In the event that the child is exposed to negative influences in the media, parents should take the opportunity to create teachable moments.” Discuss and ask junior how he feels looking at someone who uses profanity repeatedly and how it makes him feel to hear it.
8. Be consistent with your child and hold yourself accountable House rules are in place because they apply to everyone. Chua points out that besides holding your child accountable, owning up to your own mistakes as a parent is just as important. “When parents themselves breach the rules, they should also face the agreed upon consequence.”
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