What do you do when your 5-year-old comes home from school one day swearing like a sailor? Yes, it can be incredibly embarrassing if your kid drops the F-bomb in front of the wrong people (your in-laws, say, or their teacher or their friends’ parents).
So, what do you do? Do you laugh? (Admit it: It is kinda funny. But if you let out a giggle are you encouraging them?) Do you scold them? Or do you act as if it’s not a big deal?
Like so many areas of parenting, there are many different approaches. So we asked our readers what they thought — and as always, they gave us amazing advice.
One mom said, “Make sure she doesn’t say them at school or in front of grandma, and then make sure she’s using them in the correct context.” (So, for example, calling your brother something uncouth? Not cool. Get stung by a bee? You’ve earned that swear word!)
From another mom: “I allow my kids freedom of expression at home. They’re just words. We don’t practice censorship as long as the words in question aren’t being used to hurt others.”
Here are some other words of wisdom we think are pretty great:
1. Empathize. Talk to your kid to see what’s really going on. As one mom said, “pour a tall cold one (a finger of juice, topped up with water, the kid has earned it). Kindergarten was not my best year, either, from what I recall.”
2. Figure out how it happened and explain the context. One mom broke it down for us:
-Ask where/who they heard it from
-Explain why it’s not ok to use those words
-Explain why some people do
-Teach them proper context so they understand their placement.
3. Laugh. While most moms agreed that explaining why a swear word — especially if used to hurt someone — is wrong, many of them also believe in having a sense of humor. One mom even added that you should “teach them to sail so they have an excuse.”
4. Teach them better words to use instead. One wise mama suggested to give kids “better” words, such “SNAP! Huckleberries! OKRA!” As she points out: “Any word said with GUSTO will work.” Fudge! Internet! You get the idea.
5. Teach them Yiddish. You can never go wrong with Yiddish. If all else fails, teach your kids a few choice phrases — Yiddish has a variety of creative curses, such as “a ruech in dayn tatns tatn aryn,” (“May a demon take your father’s father”). Just about nobody will understand and, bonus: Your little one will make your bubbe proud.