The cure to kids' potty mouths? It all comes down to reading

The cure to kids' potty mouths? It all comes down to reading

Parenting Tips and Advice

The cure to kids' potty mouths? It all comes down to reading

The other day,  I was in line at the grocery store behind two young ladies, minding my own business and shuffling my items onto the belt.

That’s when I heard the “c” word come out of one girl’s mouth. They laughed. Then she said it again.

That’s when the gloves came off.

Credit: Getty Images

“Excuse me, how old are you ladies?” I asked.

They told me they were 16 and 17, juniors in high school.

“What would your mom do if she were here and heard you say that word and then snicker?” I asked them.

One teen, nearly in tears, apologized profusely. The other, the one with the potty mouth, still needed a little convincing. That word isn’t one you just go around town saying.

Your future boss could be right there …

As they finished up, I gave them the history of the word and explained how derogatory it is.

They tried to walk away.

“Excuse me, ladies, I’m not done yet. Please come here.”

I proceeded to tell them they had no clue who I was or what I did. I could be their boss one day, I told them, and I might remember that nasty word that spilled out of her mouth.

I told her about a study I read on cyber-bullying and how it starts with snickers like the one she said when using that word.

A glimmer of hope sparkled in her eye. She got a bit teary-eyed. I hit a nerve.

‘Son of a biscuit’ sounds so much gentler

A few days later, I came across a Facebook post on The Best of the 1950s.

I nearly died laughing out of my chair reading these. Admittedly, I use nearly all of these on this list. The caption split my sides.

“Field Tested & Mother Approved” — Best of the 1950s

Among our top picks:

  • Son of a biscuit.
  • Horse-puckey.
  • For Pete’s sake.
  • Shut the front door.
  • Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat.
  • Shut your piehole.
  • Jackwagon.
  • Doggoneit.
  • Geeze Louise.

Don’t get me wrong, I occasionally drop “non-mother-approved” curse words, especially when I step on my millionth LEGO of the day.

Are we fighting a losing battle?

When did youngsters start using such foul language? When did it become OK for them to do so?

Credit: Getty Images

Parents, if you feel like you are fighting a losing battle with your kids using curse words, it’s because you are.

That’s according to Dr. Timothy Jay, a psychologist and expert on the topic.

This is how kids’ brains work, Jay explained:

“They’re like little language vacuum cleaners, so they repeat what they hear.”

And it starts when children begin talking, picking up the language their parents and caregivers use, he added.

Come on, that doesn’t really shock any of us, does it?

Don’t beat yourself up too much, yet. Parents are not the only guilty party, according to Jay. Kids pick plenty more up from peers and at school.

Although 5- and 6-year-olds head into school with a rather “rich” vocabulary, full of curse words, don’t despair.

“It’s not entirely bad to swear in front of your kids,” Jay said.

Because reading is the cure … to everything

It’s all just part of children learning about their emotions and emotional expressions, Jay explained. They’re simply watching and mimicking their parents’ reactions.

“If you look at it as just part of being angry or frustrated or happy or surprised, that is all normal. That’s built into all of us,” Jay said.

The parent’s job is to teach children the etiquette of language, including when profanity is or is not appropriate, he said, noting that punishment rarely derails children from using curse words.

So, how do you get children to stop using curse words? Reading — you introduce them to new words and expand their vocabulary, Jay said.

And all the teachers just hollered, AMEN!

Those girls, by the way, thanked me. They even gave me a hug and said they would use better language in the future.

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