All of us hope that our little angels will never swear, ever.
Unfortunately that’s never quite how it works out, but we can at least hope they hold off for as long as possible.
However a new study has revealed that British children start learning rude words from a very young age – with the average child saying their first swear word at only four years old.
And the magic word is most likely to be fuck...oops.
Should I Worry About My Child Swearing?
Justine Roberts, Mumsnet CEO told The Huffington Post UK: “Some people do find it funny when a two-year-old struggling to dress a dolly says ‘fug it’. Other people purse their mouths up to the point of invisibility.
“But almost no one finds it amusing or attractive when a seven-year-old tells his sister to ‘fuck off’ in anger. So if it is ugly in an older child, it has to be squished in a younger child.”
What Do I Do Once If My Child Swears?
Child psychologist from Fundamentally Children, Amanda Gummer told The Huffington Post UK: “I’d say ignore it in the first instance. It may just be a one off and drawing attention to it could make it more of an issue than it needs to be.”
Roberts agrees: “With very small cursers, not reacting and not acknowledging early experiments with swearing may be enough. Don’t laugh (in front of them), whatever you do. But making a negative fuss can itself be reinforcing. Remember the three Is: ignore, ignore, ignore”.
What If It Becomes More Than A One-Off?
Gummer advises that if the swearing seems to be not just a one-off that you should take action: “Correct with a more acceptable alternative if it happens again and have a conversation about it if it happens repeatedly.”
Roberts says if your children are under the age of three you should fend off the problem: “If you can edit yourself you may be able to fend off the problem until they are more out and about in society.
“Bother, ‘oh my word’ and ‘holy guacamole’ are your friends here.”
If they are a little older (from three upwards) then depending on the level of understanding you can explain the problem.
Roberts explains: “For middling-sized children from about three upwards, depending on the level of understanding, you can start to explain that some words are not OK to be used in public, at school or by children and that they will offend people.”
How Do I Stop Them Swearing With Friends At School?
Roberts explains to parents: “At school age and beyond, they will hear words and they will understand their currency. So instead they need to be taught discretion.
“They can do it when they are grown up. They should not do it at school with other children. Good luck with that...”