My husband swears in front of our children. He doesn’t swear at our kids directly, but I’m still concerned. We have two boys, age, nine and eleven, and they’ve both gotten in trouble at school for using bad language during recess.
Some sources say hearing swear words is not harmful and helps children learn the nuances of society; however, as you’ve experienced, children who hear swear words are likely to repeat them in inappropriate places. This can have many consequences at school and in social groups. For instance, most parents don’t want their children to play with kids who use swear words.
Your husband needs to make an effort to stop swearing around your children.
Here are some ideas to help:
- Have a swear jar. When a family member says a swear word, he must put a certain amount of money in the jar. Let your children be the ones who remind you and your husband about expectations. Save up the money for a fun family outing.
- Find other words to replace swearing. Look for words that might be on standardized tests. Enrich your family’s vocabulary instead of limiting it. Make a list of funny, alternative phrases for your family to use when you’re feeling frustrated and want to swear.
- Get your husband to agree and post a sign in your home that says, “No swearing allowed.”
- Challenge your husband to see how many days he can refrain from swearing.
- Model new ways to deal with frustrations and stress. As a family, practice various techniques for pausing, breathing and restarting a sentence with better word choices.
- Praise kids for managing their emotions and using appropriate language.
Betty Richardson, PhD, RN, CS, LPC, LMFT, is an Austnipbased psychotherapist.