You hear bad words on TV, at the movies, at your workplace, in hit songs, while waiting in a slow moving line at the supermarket, even in Congress -- cursing seems to be everywhere and even acceptable. So you might not realize that cursing at your children has many adverse consequences on their growth and development. Washing your own mouth out with soap is only a temporary solution. Instead, learn the effects of hurling those four-letter words at your little ones so you can opt for more skillful ways of communication.
1. Low Self-Esteem
When parents curse at their children, the obscene verbal attack can be emotionally devastating, according to LoveOurChildrenUSA.org. Children are emotionally vulnerable and depend on their parents' reactions to form healthy self-esteem and a positive sense of self. When you curse at your child out of frustration or anger, she might internalize your hostility, leading her to feel worthless and unlovable. Cursing can also leave your kid confused and unclear about what she did wrong, because it isn't honest or healthy communication, further lowering her self-esteem.
2. Mimicking the Behavior
Kids often mimic their parents who curse, even if they don't fully understand what the words mean. If you curse at your child, you shouldn't be surprised when he begins cursing and using bad words himself, according to HealthyChildren.org. And if you don't set a positive example with your own behavior, it will be difficult to teach him more appropriate ways of communication. If your child curses and you ask him to stop, he might understandably respond by saying, "But you use bad words." You can apologize and say in response,"Sometimes Mommy makes a mistake and says a bad word, but cursing is still wrong. Remind me if you hear me say a bad word, just like I'll remind you."
3. Poor Stress Management
Cursing at your child can lead him to believe that using profanities is an acceptable way of dealing with anger, frustration and stress, because that's what you are teaching him by example. He'll likely struggle to learn more appropriate ways to manage and express anger and other emotions, which could have many adverse consequences in the outside world. Frequent cursing and poor communication skills could lead him to have trouble at school and difficulty forming and maintaining close relationships. As an adult, he might have trouble asserting himself in his career and intimate relationships if he hasn't been taught how to effectively articulate his difficult feelings, except through cursing.
4. Stopping the Four-Letter Words
It's normal to feel angry and frustrated with your child, but it's important to express those feelings constructively rather than using profanities. When you become upset with your child, take a deep breath and calmly express what you're feeling. If you feel like you're losing control, leave the room or count down from 10. Without raising your voice or using an expletive, tell her exactly what she did wrong and what you're upset about. You might say, "I asked you several times to clean your room before dinner. If you continue to refuse to clean your room, no computer tonight." Be firm and stick to any promised consequences.
- HealthyChildren.org: Swearing
- EmpoweringParents: “F--- You, Mom!” How to Stop Your Child from Cursing in Your Home
- Grandparents.com: Is Cursing Ever Okay?
- Chicago Tribune: The curse of the cussing in-laws
- LoveOurChildrenUSA: Controlling Parental Anger
- TheHuffingtonPost.com: I Can't Stop Cursing Around My Kids
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images