This week on America's Supernanny, childcare guru Deborah Tillman came across the most foul-mouthed little kid she's ever seen. Poor little Armani (NOT pictured here), just 4 years old and already cussin' like a pirate. "Hey listen, you #$%@-head! &*$# face!" Poor mom! Where did he pick up such language? From his daddy, Bill.
Bill fessed up: "The only person on earth he would've gotten that from is his dad. I knew that was my mistake ... that's what got me, he was sounding like me. But I know I'm gonna stop." Good for you, Bill, taking responsibility for poor modeling. But the time to really stop swearing is way before your kid turns 4!
This is a problem a lot of us parents face. Oh, I know there are some disciplined folks out there who never swear at all. Good for you. But especially if you've waited to have kids -- and are mired in your old habits -- kicking the potty mouth is awfully hard. And it needs to happen early on, before your child learns how to talk. Use the swearing jar, whatever it takes.
I still remember when my son was a baby and he would stare at my mouth while I spoke. After a while, he started mouthing along with me, almost like he was trying to lip-sync along with whatever I was saying while he learned how to talk. It brought home to me how much he watched his parents' every move -- and heard every word. They're listening even when you're not talking to them! (Except when you say "stop that.")
Of course, just as your child is learning to talk they're at their most exasperating. Never did I have more REASONS to cuss than when I was dealing with a curious, rambunctious, stubborn little toddler! Needless to say I'm not perfect and I did let a few 4-letter-words fly. And then I apologized. "Mommy needs to stop saying that word!" Even if you're not perfect, making it clear to your kids that you're trying can make a difference. One of the big surprises of raising my son was learning that he actually doesn't want to hear his parents swear. And he gets that we don't like hearing him swear. Along with your words, kids pick up on your actions and your attitude.
Was it hard for you to stop swearing around your kids? What are your tactics?
Image via efleming/Flickr