Says your four-year-old. That’s right, your four-year-old. If this hasn’t happened to you yet, it will. At some point during their childhood, most kids will decide to try out a swear word or two. If you’re lucky, they’ll do it at home and not at school or a friend’s house. The next question is, what to do?
There are a lot of suggestions out there for curing potty mouth. Everything from soap in the mouth to hot sauce. These are occasionally effective but pretty awful for everyone. I don’t recommend them. I’ll tell you a method I discovered years ago back when I was a nanny. It’s easy, quick and nearly always works the very first time. It’s called:
Wear Out the Word
Here’s what you do:
When your child first utters an offensive word, explain to him that he cannot say that word. You can let him know that it is a word only for grown-up’s or only for the bathroom or whatever makes sense for you and your values. That is his one and only warning. The next time he says the word (and he will) you implement the correction. You tell him very calmly that since he enjoys saying that word so much, you are going to have him say it A WHOLE LOT. You are going to have him “wear out the word.”
Set a timer for one minute and place your child on a chair or stool. Tell your child that he is now to repeat the word, continuously and loudly, until the timer goes off. He can’t get off the stool until he does. At first, your child will likely have a huge grin on his face. He loves this new word! But as he continues to repeat the word, he is going to find this exercise distasteful. He may not want to continue, but insist that he does. Most children only need to do this exercise one time to quit saying the offensive word.
The reason this is such an effective tool is because it takes away the power of the word. Children are still learning their native language. When they discover that a particular word causes a huge reaction, with lots of fuss and attention, they tend to use it strategically and intentionally. When they find out that the word only results in them repeating it over and over again, without you caring about it one bit, they tire of it REALLY quickly and develop a huge distaste for it, discarding it immediately.
So, when your child decides to walk in to the kitchen one day and announce that he’s “tired of this sh*$,” don’t freak out. Just let him swear at the top of his lungs for the next 60 seconds. He won’t want to do it again for a long time. Well, at least until he hits middle school. That’s a whole different conversation.
Your thoughts, comments and suggestions are always welcome!
- Monday Morning Mortification! (alienredqueen.wordpress.com)
- Nice Kid, Potty Mouth (honestandtruly.com)
- Potty Mouth Mommies (mommyrantings.org)
- To swear or not to swear (aletteratatime.wordpress.com)