The family is gathered in the dining room when they suddenly hear 4-year-old Lu say a foul word. Her mother looks at her furiously and yells at her not to be rude. Her dad, on the other hand, laughs out loud. Does this scene look familiar to you?
In childhood, boys and girls say rude things without knowing the meaning of those words. There are parents who find it amusing or “funny” to hear them talk like that. Even some family members, such as uncles or grandparents, reward preschoolers for saying them, since they find it funny the way the kids pronounce those words.
When he was five years old, Gabriel remembers that every time his godfather came to visit, he used to pay him 10 pesos to say a bad word, “it made him laugh a lot how I pronounced the swearing. My mom scolded me. So, secretly, my godfather gave me money to repeat it”, says Gabriel, who now tries not to swear in front of his daughter.
Where do kids pick these words?
To prevent your child from saying rude things, child psychologist María Useche Criollo recommends that you tell them, respectfully and without yelling, not to say them, “by not magnifying the situation or giving it much importance, correct the child with respect, and tell him that what he has just said is a foul word, therefore, he should not repeat it”.
For many parents it is a surprise that their daughters and sons say bad words because they assure that they do not use bad language at home. However, we cannot ignore the fact that Mexican society is used to swear at least in 20 different ways in their daily conversations, according to the survey“The Mexican and foul words” by Consulting Mitofsky.
The document shows that young men are the ones who use them the most, especially hanging out with friends.
Specialist Useche Criollo thinks that one of the reasons why boys and girls swear is because they hear foul words within their family or school environment, “primary caregivers have the possibility to control the places the kids visit; therefore, they can specifically determine where they could have heard or learned those words”.
Reactions to “swearwords”
- Avoid laughing when they say something rude, otherwise they will continue to draw your attention in this way and understand that it is acceptable behavior. “By using positive reinforcement for negative behaviors, the only thing that will be achieved is to maintain these behaviors over time”, emphasizes the psychologist.
- Don’t yell at them or spank them. “Laughter and anger, both extremes, will make a boy or girl continue using bad language to get attention, something very important at this stage of their lives”, says Useche.
- Avoid humiliating. they are getting to know the world. Offending them will create negative feelings.
- Explain why they shouldn’t say “bad words”. Do it with disposition, good attitude and respect, and set an example by not saying them so that they do not have to use them.
- Teach an appropriate word that can substitute the “bad word”.
Parents should not put labels on our girls and boys. If we tell them “you are rude”, we are damaging the self-image he has of himself.
The expert Useche Criollo recommends going to therapy to evaluate the family context and establish what behaviors, actions or words the kids are imitating, and what modifications in the behavior of parents or caregivers can be made to eliminate the cause of the use of bad language.
Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara