BTDT mamas on *cursing* (advice for a wordy toddler) Update: #32 - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-21-2010, 04:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I thought it was so cute when I overheard DD talking to her blocks. "No, don't fall off of there. I am just trying to balance this so I can make a house to show mommy." She was staying pretty calm, but when it all came tumbling down she muttered, "G-d d-mnit," and then immediately looked up at at me for a reaction. Not so cute

She has done this a couple dozen times now in the last few weeks. We have never drawn any attention to it, but it has gotten worse and worse, and now she is looking at me for my reaction so I know she feels the word is taboo. She must have noticed our pause and subtle looks to eachother.

We try not to curse around her and do a very good job, but I admit once in a blue moon I say that phrase when I get really frustrated. (I am so thankful right now I don't get hurt more often, because my go to phrase for acute intense pain in 'mother f-cker.')

She just loves words. To give you an idea, she told me today when looking at a small creek, "I though it was a creek, but it is just a stream." I have no idea where she came up with stream, but that brings her number of words she has for bodies of waters up to 7. And, it is like that accross the board. She is very articulate and narrates her entire day.

I am at a crossroads and need some wisdom and opinions from BTDT mamas.

~Would you treat this same as a 4 year old cursing?
~How long should I let it go before I stop ignoring it and clue her in on what naughty words are?
~How would I explain to a 26 month old that some words are offensive to others?
~How should I react when she continues to say the word knowing she should not?
~Will this open up another can of worms?

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Old 09-21-2010, 05:02 PM
 
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mine says Sh-- and F--k. oops


he's a little younger and wouldn't get an explanation at all, so i try to not react at all. hopefully if we don't react he'll not get what he's looking for and will stop.

we have really really tightened up on the cursing, but its always that one time you think you've started a fire by forgetting the sausages on the stove and jump up and let slip a big f-bomb.. (sound specific enough? )

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Old 09-21-2010, 06:13 PM
 
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~Would you treat this same as a 4 year old cursing? no
~How long should I let it go before I stop ignoring it and clue her in on what naughty words are? sounds like she already knows what naughty words are
~How would I explain to a 26 month old that some words are offensive to others? this would be a pretty tough thing to explain to a 2 yo, she may understand the words but i doubt she will understand the concept
~How should I react when she continues to say the word knowing she should not? not sure she can understand/have that impulse control at her age
~Will this open up another can of worms?definitely

In your situation I would keep ignoring and work really hard to keep a neutral face, not do the sideways glance or anything. Absolutely zero reaction.
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Old 09-21-2010, 06:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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sounds like she already knows what naughty words are

In your situation I would keep ignoring and work really hard to keep a neutral face, not do the sideways glance or anything. Absolutely zero reaction.
Yes, I do believe the cat is out of the bag.

I am going to keep ignoring it. She actually just said it again a few minutes ago.

Here is another question. Should I try to play up something like "gosh darnit" in my vocabulary to give her an alternative? Maybe that would confuse her?
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Old 09-21-2010, 06:33 PM
 
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i have tried that too.
when I say Shoot, he says SH-T

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Old 09-21-2010, 06:41 PM
 
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Yes, I do believe the cat is out of the bag.

I am going to keep ignoring it. She actually just said it again a few minutes ago.

Here is another question. Should I try to play up something like "gosh darnit" in my vocabulary to give her an alternative? Maybe that would confuse her?
I wouldn't use something that sounds like it at all, if you want to try to substitute. Maybe think of a different (funny, perhaps?) phrase/word that might amuse her more instead.

At 2 1/2, my dd was playing store with her daddy. She got in her little car, went to the pretend store, came back and said, "They're all out of ice cream! What the f*ck are we going to do?"

Just for the record, she's five now, and she doesn't use those words anymore (hasn't for a long time).
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Old 09-21-2010, 06:46 PM
 
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DD has said f--k and another word in DH's language. The word in DH's language she just repeated after me so it wasn't in context. However, f--k she decided to repeat OVER and OVER again at a friend's house one night and it didn't help because she had an audience and everyone was laughing hysterically at it.

Fortunately, she seemed to get over it and we pretty much never use that word so I guess it got old. But it was really hard for DH and I to keep a straight face.
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Old 09-21-2010, 06:52 PM
 
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At 2 1/2, my dd was playing store with her daddy. She got in her little car, went to the pretend store, came back and said, "They're all out of ice cream! What the f*ck are we going to do?"
That is too funny! How in the world did you keep from falling over in laughter?

Regarding the OP, I don't know what your personal feelings are on cursing, but I allow my children to curse at home, in front of DH and me only. I've told DS (4 now, but I've been telling him this since 2 yo) that he can't use those words in front of other people or in public, especially the G.D. one, because it is rude and offensive. I've also told him that he will get in trouble if he says any of those words at school. So far, he's never said it at an inappropriate time. Obviously this won't work for you if you are completely against cursing, but it works for us. BTW, the one he said the most was "damnit" which I really don't find that bad anyway. We haven't had any incidences of the F-word so far, he may not know that one yet.

As an aside, if you're going to say "darn it" you might as well say "damn it" IMO.
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Old 09-21-2010, 07:06 PM
 
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At 2 1/2, my dd was playing store with her daddy. She got in her little car, went to the pretend store, came back and said, "They're all out of ice cream! What the f*ck are we going to do?"

which is exactly the kind of reaction I try NOT to show DS!

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Old 09-21-2010, 07:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That is too funny! How in the world did you keep from falling over in laughter?

Regarding the OP, I don't know what your personal feelings are on cursing, but I allow my children to curse at home, in front of DH and me only. I've told DS (4 now, but I've been telling him this since 2 yo) that he can't use those words in front of other people or in public, especially the G.D. one, because it is rude and offensive. I've also told him that he will get in trouble if he says any of those words at school. So far, he's never said it at an inappropriate time. Obviously this won't work for you if you are completely against cursing, but it works for us. BTW, the one he said the most was "damnit" which I really don't find that bad anyway. We haven't had any incidences of the F-word so far, he may not know that one yet.

As an aside, if you're going to say "darn it" you might as well say "damn it" IMO.
I obviously have no problem with cursing myself . (But, really I rarely do it around DD anymore. I swear.) And, I have no problem with a little @ss here and a little $hit there coming from an older child. What is offputing about this is that she is saying "G-d d-mnit" of all curse words and she is doing it in context, and she is still a baby.
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Old 09-21-2010, 08:22 PM
 
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We have told DD those are Mommy and Daddy words and her words are shoot and darn frex. Actually it has worked pretty well.

We have cleaned up our language quite a bit, which was hard as we both cursed like sailors.

One day DD read a book to herself and every page was 'd*mn it, d*mn it, d*mn it' It was a Tinkerbell story, based on the movie, I can see Tink having a penchant for a good d*mn it every once in a while, she's got a temper.

We are always calm b/c we know it's just a phase and it's our own fault pretty much. We correct her to the right substitute and let it go. We don't make a big deal or give it any power. So far so good, but she does still swear every once in a while.

So do we.

My thought is, as she gets older, she'll better be able to understand why these words are not meant for her to say. I will also talk to her about swearing more frankly, about how I wish I hadn't started because it isn't worth it.

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Old 09-21-2010, 08:36 PM
 
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My daughter was very similar. She's almost nine now, and is really good about not using inappropriate language.

It took my completely censoring myself though so it *never* slipped out, and also, my correcting myself when I did slip. If I said 'damn' i n response to stubbing my toe, for instance, I would say aloud, "Well, that's not a good word, can't you think of something better?" Then I would come out with something absolutely silly sounding- and that worked well. She got a kick out of helping to make up nonsense words to fit the moment.

(This was a child who, before age two screamed, "Help, I'm being oppressed!" when buckled into a cart so I could do some grocery shopping.)

She will say the wrong thing at the wrong time, but you'll all come out alive- and she'll be easy to reason with as she gets older because of her vocabulary.
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Old 09-21-2010, 09:06 PM
 
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She has already figured out the naughty part-- that is why she is saying it an waiting for your reaction. I think it is time to have the discussion. It probably goes without saying (or maybe not) that you need to self-censor better (truly, it can be done) but after you slip up, you need to correct yourself. That is how it works in our house where the word that slips out (MIL) is stupid. blah blah blah stupid Toddler in suspense. "MIL made a mistake honny. She knows it is not a nice thing to say because it hurts people's feelings. What can we say instead when we are frusterated."

I still curse like a librarian on the inside. =)

Cursing won't ever be allowed in our household. I think it is a useful thing for children to develop the internal censor. That is how I can curse on the inside now when I am around my mom and kids, but let it rip when alone or DH. But I don't think children of any age cursing is funny at all.
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Old 09-21-2010, 09:24 PM
 
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DS does this too. We try to keep cursing to a minimum, but one little slip and you're done for life. (I got way over the top frustrated one day when he was stalling at lunch, and now whenever I chide him, even gently, to finish eating, he says, "Eat your damn lunch!" And I repeat back to him, "Eat your lunch" b/c that's what I said.) He also "practices" being frustrated and throws his hands up in the air and says, "Oh my GOSH! Are you KIDDING ME???" Thankfully, I manage to leave the F*ing out of there... This morning I said "damn" about something and he scolded me and said it wasn't a nice word, so I think he's catching on, but I doubt that means he'll stop saying it himself...
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Old 09-21-2010, 09:25 PM
 
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We accidentally taught our DS the F-word when he was this age. Our daycare, though, had an awesome solution - every time he said it, they acted as though he'd said "frog". "A frog? Where's the frog? Can you be a frog?" At the end of a week, every time he dropped an f-bomb, he also said "ribbet." Shortly after that, he stopped being entertained by the naughty word and gave it up.

When he's older - say, five or six - I will have a go at explaining that there are certain words that are very rude to say and we don't use them, except maybe in emergencies. (Did you know that they've done studies that show that people handle pain better when cussing? And that real swear words work better than made-up substitutes?) I don't think he's old enough to get it now (he's 3.5) and I worry that drawing the line will just leave me with a massive enforcement problem. I'm sticking with "ribbet." And "shirt."
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Old 09-21-2010, 09:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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(Did you know that they've done studies that show that people handle pain better when cussing? And that real swear words work better than made-up substitutes?)
I have come across that before. It is so true, isn't it?


She hasn't cursed since earlier today. (She really saves it for when she gets frustrated. She doesn't just randomly say the word for fun.) I just took her to Panera for our Mommy-daughter chicken noodle soup dinner. She did not take a nap today so she was a bit upset. She was being loud with her protests, and I was so worried she was going to curse, but she didn't.

I think what will work best for us is for me to model a whole new word for expressing frustration. I honestly think she is more concerned with figuring out how to use a swear word correctly than being naughty.

So, I am going to try to not let it slip anymore, if I do, I'll correct myself, ignore her saying it, and say something ridiculous when I get frustrated instead. If that doesn't work, we'll go to plan B.

I just have this feeling that if I tell her it is a grown-up word, it is only going to make it worse. For example, we told her it was ok to pick her nose in the bathroom. For a long time she walked around with her finger in her nose all day saying, "I am only supposed to pick my nose in the bathroom, right mommy? I better go to the bathroom."

So, if I don't have to go there yet, it would be nice. But, we might have to...

Now, anyone have good 'fake' curse words? Ribbit is cute, but I don't think that is going to cut it for me when I find her seashells in the toilet again.
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Old 09-21-2010, 10:19 PM
 
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Our daycare, though, had an awesome solution - every time he said it, they acted as though he'd said "frog". "A frog? Where's the frog? Can you be a frog?" At the end of a week, every time he dropped an f-bomb, he also said "ribbet." Shortly after that, he stopped being entertained by the naughty word and gave it up.
I always say- oh, do you see a truck?
but this is more for the benefit of the scandalized passerbys

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Old 09-21-2010, 10:20 PM
 
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My guideline at home: as long as whatever it is follows standard grammar and is not hostile toward people, it can fly. That said, one needs a driver's license here to use George Carlin's list and will be reminded that "you need a license for that one". (that way, driving frustration is always okay given the license the swearer holds) (I also use a license need for cutting hair) I love what swearing does in flavoring language, but have to draw the line with hostility, no matter what the word choice.
DD (3.5) has uttered "awwwww, sh-t" when something goes fubar for her, which is exactly the context that mommy has modeled and must take responsibility for. It was situationally correct, however, so I just addressed the problem at hand without addressing the individual word choice.

SMC to dd 4/07.
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Old 09-21-2010, 10:37 PM
 
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I like the license idea! good one!

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Old 09-22-2010, 12:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So, for people who say it is ok to swear in the home, what do you do about swearing in public?

I think I would die if DD said G-d d-mnit in public. Especially that particular curse word and especially because she is short and only 24 lbs and has the sweetest baby voice. I feel like people would really be shocked and judgmental. And, I would hate to offend anyone. I just don't think she would be able to control herself even if I stressed to her she could use them at home but not in public. Maybe in a few months. Again, using the picking her nose example. She will put her finger in her nose out and public and then remind herself, "I am not supposed to pick my nose in public. People don't want to see me picking my boogers. They will think its gross." <then removes finger>

I don't know. Maybe, I am not giving her enough credit.
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Old 09-22-2010, 10:56 AM
 
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Funny enough, I don't think I've heard dd say any naughty words in public--but I suppose it's like a tantrum. We're not worried that the child is going to embarrass him/herself with a tantrum, we're worried that WE will be embarrassed by their tantrum. I think the same holds true for swears or other things. If we can get past our own insecurities about people judging our parenting, we can let a lot of this type of thing go, no? Funny thing is -- the things dd would do that I would find embarrassing typically aren't anything other people would find a problem with I've found.

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Old 09-22-2010, 11:42 AM
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I honestly don't remember how I handled it, but I do remember getting cut off in traffic, hitting my horn, and hearing my 2yo (firstborn) say from the back seat, "That guy's a f*&$in' idiot, right Mommy?"

:roflmao
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Old 09-22-2010, 12:03 PM
 
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I actually ridirect with alternatives and try to make them seem just as taboo. Is it the right thing to do? I dunno, I havent read many child pyschology books. But it seems to work. Damn-It (which is their favorite right now) is darn it. Sh*t= Sugar or shoot. My little guy even picked up on "What the heck". "Oh gosh" is another one. I figured redirecting works for things like tantrums and sharing, so why not swearing?
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Old 09-22-2010, 02:54 PM
 
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I cringe a bit when my daughter swears in public but I otherwise ignore it and go on with the conversation. I figure that acknowledging it makes it worse. And I swear a lot and I don't believe in hypocrisy so I absolutely won't punish for curse words.

My advice may not be appropriate for you. That's ok. You are just fine how you are and I am the right kind of me.

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Old 09-22-2010, 03:26 PM
 
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At 2 1/2, my dd was playing store with her daddy. She got in her little car, went to the pretend store, came back and said, "They're all out of ice cream! What the f*ck are we going to do?"
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Old 09-22-2010, 03:38 PM
 
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I actually ridirect with alternatives and try to make them seem just as taboo. Is it the right thing to do? I dunno, I havent read many child pyschology books. But it seems to work. Damn-It (which is their favorite right now) is darn it. Sh*t= Sugar or shoot. My little guy even picked up on "What the heck". "Oh gosh" is another one. I figured redirecting works for things like tantrums and sharing, so why not swearing?
I know a few families who are just as offended by the substitutions as by the actual word.
In my preschool classroom a child came up to me and said "Johnny said a bad word!" (my reflex reaction to this is *always* "what did he say?" )
turns out the kid had said "what the..." and trailed off at the end, which this kid was told is a naughty thing to say.

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Old 09-22-2010, 04:15 PM
 
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I have been sitting her the whole time I've been reading!

As for what I do: I act like ds isn't even talking at all when he curses. The one time its happened I saw a bug and was trying to kill it saying, piece if sh*t bug! And DS said, of course, "sh*t bug sh*t bug" - I just went along as though he wasn't talking (no reaction whatsoever - I just kept doing dishes or whatever I was doing) and he stopped saying it in a few minutes. I do pay LOTS of attention when he is saying appropriate words, or says something that he didn't know previously, so the lack of attention made him lose interest pretty quick.

And, I've gotten REALLY good at self censoring my language.
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Old 09-22-2010, 04:35 PM
 
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Oh, man, we are definitely dealing with this in our house right now with 4yo DS. We are also learning our letters in a co-op preschool with some good friends. The other day DS asked my friend what letters "f-ing sh*t" start with. We don't say those two words together, so he gets points for the novel swear combination, but MAN!

We had a conversation about words that are bad and hurt some people's feelings, and that it's not really even okay for mommy and daddy to say those words, either... didn't stop him from asking my dad the same question later that same day. Ohhhh well.

We've made good strides and for the most part none of us are swearing anymore. Though I do miss the giggles I got out of the occasional "Suck a b*tch" and such. He definitely had a distinct swearing style.
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Old 09-22-2010, 04:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, this is timely. Time magazine: Kids Swearing Earlier Than Ever


ETA: She has been saying it all day.
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Old 09-22-2010, 04:51 PM
 
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When he had just turned three, my DS calmly informed my DH that "F*ck is another word for d*mmit." What worked for us was really working hard to (in the words of a co-worker) "Beaver Cleaver"-up our language, while reminding DS that that those are not words we say in public. Now, at 3 3/4, he hardly ever swears, but neither do we (at least in front of him...)
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