If YouTube has taught us anything, it's that watching kids say swearwords is funny. It just is. A 2-year-old who says the F-word while playing PlayStation is so wrong, but it's weirdly kind of cute, too, right?
Mum or Dad are videotaping the clip, probably egging the little guy or girl on, who soon realises that by saying one of those naughty words they can get a reaction. Sometimes laughter, sometimes castigation, sometimes a full-blown uncontrollable belly laugh.
But Em Rusciano, who has two children of her own, has taken the mild appreciation for kids swearing to a new level, saying in an opinion piece for News Ltd. that her kids aren't banned from swearing at home.
"The first rule in swear club is that we don't direct it at another family member," Rusciano wrote.
"I don't swear in front of other people's children, nor do my kids swear in front of other adults, however I do reserve the right to allow my kids to swear in the privacy of our own home.
"What I mean by that is, if the occasional F or S bomb gets dropped, we move on. It's just not that big of a deal."
Are Rusciano and her family just a bunch a potty mouths who need to have their tongues scrubbed with soap? Rusciano says it's just part of their vocabulary and they have more pressing issues to deal with. According to research conducted by psychology professor, Timothy Jay, from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, swearing can account for between 0.3 and 0.7 per cent of our daily speech and that is being picked up by our kids.
Mother to 3-year-old Billie, Ashlea of Victoria says swearing is a big no-no in her household.
"It just sounds horrible coming out of a little girl's mouth," she says. "Although she has slipped a few times, she has always been told off directly afterwards. It's hard when, as parents, we can slip in general conversation with other adults, but our children hear absolutely everything, even if we don't realise at the time."
Mother of three from Queensland, Jacqueline, says she's taught her kids not to swear because of the environment the family keeps at home.
"Our kids don't swear and I think that's because we've built a culture of 'it's not okay to swear' at home," she says. "The kids even pull us up if we say a 'naughty word.'
"Because we made such a big deal about it when our eldest son, Luke, first swore, he started to do it for attention, because he got such a reaction from us. So then we ignored him and he stopped."
On the other side of the coin, Becky says there are much more worrisome things that can come out of a child's mouth and that are worth paying attention to, more so than swearing.
"I am probably going to be in the minority here, but swearing doesn't bother me. We don't encourage it and we tell Will that he shouldn't say that, but I don't stress about it," she says.
"So far he hasn't ever heard or said anything that is derogatory based on race, gender or sexual orientation. Things like that I will care more about. The rest leave at the speed of sound so I don't feel the need to stress about it."
So what's the problem, other than sounding like a family of sailors? Is there any damage that can be done to kids who begin swearing from an early age?
Of course, the context of where kids are hearing swearing matters. If it is directed at them from a parent or someone else, then yes, of course that form of swearing is going to cause damage to a child. It's verbal abuse, after all.
But if kids hear it in passing, if the S-word slips out of Mum's mouth in the parking lot or they hear it in a movie, can it still cause harm? According to Psychology Today, there isn't too much research done in that area, but in one study by the Association of Psychological Science's Observer, "10,000 instances of swearing [were recorded] and rarely seen [was] direct harm."
What do you think? Is swearing okay in your household? Or do you still have a swear jar? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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