You know that swearing isn’t a great quality, obviously.
And you definitely don’t want your child dropping f-bombs. But what if it’s Mom who constantly slips up? What if it’s Mom who’s the candidate to have her mouth washed out with soap?
We asked experts to give advice on how to clean up your vocabulary so your kids don’t develop a potty mouth of their own.
So why the foul language?
Do you regularly let bad words slip off your tongue while your child is within earshot, and you wonder why you can’t keep your mouth shut when little ears are listening? You could just have a very bad habit, but one that can be broken.
Laurie A. Gray, JD, a trial attorney and child advocate says, “A potty-mouth parent has two distinct problems: One has to do with vocabulary and the other is more about habit.”
Gray continues, “If you are in the habit of swearing and wish to stop, the easiest thing to do is to substitute an acceptable word or phrase for the offending word or phrase. This is a fairly simple — but not particularly effective — solution because it doesn’t address the real problem. It’s like a smoker who tries substituting gum or M&Ms for cigarettes. Every time they pop the substitute in their mouths, they’re reinforcing the old habit rather than really addressing it. Even when they are past the physical addiction, it is so easy to start smoking again because the habit itself hasn’t changed.”
How a mom cleaned up her bad language
So how can you clean up your language? Ann Morgan James is a mom who admits she had a potty mouth. “There were certain words that were like my crack… that I used all the time.”
James’ solution was turning to her son for help. “I explained it had become a habit and furthermore, it was a sign of ignorance. I told him I’d give him a quarter every time he caught me swearing. As you might have guessed, he jumped at the chance. He pounced on me every time one left my lips.”
This little exercise benefited James and her son in a number of ways. His mom admitted she had a problem and needed help to solve it. “He was the solution,” James said. “He also became aware of my language and thereby his. We worked together on it and you know what, it was really fun. I swear a lot less and no, I won’t tell you how much the kid profited, but suffice to say, he was not hurting that month!”
The goal isn’t to stop swearing
You don’t have to stop swearing completely. “My husband and I sometimes swear like drunken sailors with each other and our friends, but we choose not to use profanity in front of our 10-year-old daughter (or in front of my own parents for that matter),” says Gray.
Gray continues, “The real goal isn’t to stop swearing, it’s to start thinking before you speak. It’s a level of self-discipline and self-control that goes beyond the words themselves. By pausing just for a moment or even just taking a breath before you let words spew from your mouth, parents create the opportunity to self-censor not only the specific words used, but also the emotions behind the words that often do more damage than the choice of words themselves.”
Are you guilty of swearing in front of your kids? Have you tried to clean up your language?