Let me begin with a confession.
A few weeks ago our almost-2-year-old marched around the house happily repeating a swear word. He had no idea what he was saying, but it made the hairs on my neck stand straight up.
In horror, my wife and I quickly exchanged glances, wondering which one of us added this word to his vocabulary.
In Sarah Silverman's entertaining book, The Bedwetter, she wrote a funny passage about her father's enjoyment teaching her swear words at an early age. It might have led her into a successful, rewarding career — but unless you plan on raising the next great comedian, you might want to work on taming the potty mouths in your house.
1. Tame your tongue
We curse when we get angry, and all parents know that the stressors of day-to-day life can push us to the brink. Often. Ultimately, we must control our emotions and our words.
2. Find a happy place
Experts say parents need to remove themselves from a difficult situation and count to ten to calm down. Try doing the same thing before dropping a verbal bomb.
3. Make swearing pay
When you do use a swear word — or if your kids do when they're old enough to know better — start a swear jar. Each offense costs a certain amount. At the end of the month (or week - depending on how often your family breaks the rule), use the proceeds towards a good, clean family outing.
4. Come up with a substitute
When my grandmother got angry, she used to say "Shi-ugar." We all knew what she meant but it was effective for her. For fun, ask your kids to help make up humorous substitutes for common swear words.
5. Do as I say…
If you slip up and use an inappropriate word — even when you think you're out of earshot — it sends a message to your kids that it's OK for them to do it, too. Set a good example with your own mouth.
6. Don't forget about the online world
Take a look at the language some young people use on social media websites. Family, teachers, and future employers might look at those sites. Explain to your kids why language on social media websites is just as important as the language we use in person.
7. Speak up
Friends can be a bad influence. We were at a party the other day and a friend was using curse words faster than I could cover my son's ears. I had to explain to my friend that we are trying to avoid using swear words in front of our children. It was an uncomfortable, but necessary, conversation.
8. Leave it be
If your child is young and doesn't understand the word, try not to call attention to it. It's possible the word use will fade away. If your child is older, explain to them why the word is inappropriate. If it becomes a serious problem, some sort of punishment may be in order.