It’s an uneventful day at home, and you leave your toddler enjoying as usual in his play area. Suddenly, out of nowhere, you hear it: a foul and offensive word you dread coming from your adorable little one. You stop in your tracks as your mind drifts to a thousand different directions.
What do you do?
Registered Psychometrician and Student Mentor Heidi Cledoro shares tips on how to calmly approach a cursing toddler. Read on.
It’s expected of you to be shocked and alarmed when you hear your children use swear words. In most cases, you will promptly correct or remind them that such words are inappropriate.
Ms. Heidi shares that negative reactions can have emotional consequences for the kids. “Children may experience feelings of guilt, shame, and anxiety due to their parents’ disapproval. Moreover, this negative reaction can potentially hinder open communication between parent and children, making it challenging for the children to express themselves effectively.”
There’s no blanket strategy that applies to all toddlers in this situation due their individual needs and temperament, but responding with patience is always key. Ms. Heidi provides a two-step strategy: “explain that these words are not appropriate, and provide the opportunity to unlearn this behavior.”
She also emphasizes the importance of creating a supportive and understanding environment for your kids at home.
Since toddlers often experience big emotions and may struggle to express them in the right manner, parents can create a designated spot or a safe space at home where their children can freely express their feelings without judgment.
According to Ms. Heidi, it’s best to encourage creative outlets, like drawing, painting, or crafting to allow kids to express emotions which are difficult to verbalize. Parents may also provide visual aids to help their toddlers name their feelings.
Kids will not forget the offensive language overnight. The correction needs to be done on a consistent and daily basis.
Ms. Heidi reminds that kids often pick up swear words from adults or people around them, such as parents, siblings, other family members, friends, classmates, or even strangers. So when parents expect their children to not use offensive language, they must be mindful of their words and actions because toddlers mirror what their grownups do.
Parents can always use positive and negative reinforcement.
Using positive words, giving incentives, or spending quality time can be done to reward good behavior. On the other hand, removing privileges or items when children use inappropriate language may be done when foul and offensive language is used.
According to Ms. Heidi, parents should seek professional help “when their children’s behavior disrupts daily life, impedes the development of social and communication skills, or has a negative impact on building relationships with peers.”
Additionally, seeking help from child psychologists or counselors are beneficial “if children struggle to express themselves or manage their emotions effectively,” Ms. Heidi concludes.