5 Tips to Try For A Swearing Toddler (Besides Giggling)

Well, we have a swearing toddler in the house.  Bear is going through a bit of a blue phase, mostly centring around his mispronunciation of the word truck, but with a few other mispronunications peppered in for good measure.  While I realise it’s about him discovering words and saying them a tiny bit wrong, it can be super embarrassing when he gleefully tells me he sees a truck at the top of his lungs and mixes up some crucial letters., leading to strangers staring at me like I’m force feeding him crystal meth. This extremely awkward situation has led me to put together some tips for other mothers dealing with a swearing toddler.

     1. But Why?

The first step is to work out why they are doing it. If the swearing issue is due to a word mispronunciation, make sure to correct them instead of giggling. This will in time lead them to say the word properly, but it may also help you feel better about the people staring at your teeny tiny sailor.  If they are doing it for attention, ignore them.  It’ll pass quicker if you manage not to give them attention for doing it. Don’t outright ban the words because that will just add kerosene to their tiny rebellious fire.

     2. R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Work out your own limits and choose your battles. Are you okay with swearing as long as it’s not directly insulting another person? Fine.  Okay with it but at home only? Great. Pick your limit and stick to it. It’s important that they realise that these words can hurt, even though they are a little young to understand empathy. Teaching kids not to swear is often more about teaching them to respect their parents and others than about not being offensive.

     3. I Learned It From You Mum!

I’m definitely guilty of casual swearing. I try not to do it in front of Bear, but I slip up regularly, particularly when I am stressed. So part of my approach was to try and eliminate words from my own speech that I don’t want gleefully shouted in the daycare foyer.  All I can say is good luck, especially in traffic.

     4. Don’t Forbid It

If you treat certain words as dirty or forbidden, kids will treat them that way as well and shriek them at every opportunity.  Words like poo and bum can be used  as common place during appropriate times like nappy changes, which robs them of their shock value. Once the fun is gone, kids will move on quickly.

     5. Sub It Up

Most adults can admit that swearing can feel good or cathartic and toddlers feel the same. There are alternatives that you can steer your little one towards that feel almost as good and fun to say as swear words, so find some substitutes for your little one and yourself to use. I’m a big fan of ‘Flappity Flippers’ and ‘Shiver Me Whiskers’ from Octonauts personally. If they are using swearing to express rage or frustration, steer them towards the correct words for these emotions to help them feel understood.

Have you had a swearing toddler in the house? What tips do you have for dealing with it?

Linking up with Denyse Whelan, All Mum Said and One Mother Hen today.
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  1. Ah yes… I don’t have kids but remember when my niece was young and having to stop myself swearing in front of her and then not make a huge deal if I ever did, or if she did.

    I wrote a while ago about my friend’s little boy who confided in (his mum who’d told me) and then me that a boy at daycare called him duckhead. He was mortified. We thought it funny – unsure if the boy in question said the ‘d’ instead of a ‘f’ or the ‘u’ instead of an ‘i’.

  2. Good strategies here! I recalled a 5 year old in one of my Kinder classes who still said ‘that’ word for truck. Took me some control not to draw attention to it. Eventually it worked..but time was helpful. Thanks for linking up today.

  3. I swear only when I am really upset or mad about something, so thankfully my kids don’t hear it that often, but I do try to hold it back as I would hate to hear them saying any words like that. But yes, the traffic situation doesn’t make it easy to restrain myself 🙂

  4. I love the last tip. I used to be good at subbing, but lately all the f’s have been coming out! I think the kids know that it means Mum is angry etc, and I should really use the real words of the emotion to convey my feelings better.
    They’ve never sworn in public though, which is a good thing that they know where it is not appropriate.

  5. LOL yes I find that ignoring it is the best way – once they’ve seen your reaction then it’s game on! I was always pretty good with not swearing around the kids when they were toddlers, but I think that’s because I channeled it all into my blog as an outlet. LOL.

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