Monday, September 1, 2008

Bad Parent: WTF

It was bound to happen and now that it has, I know exactly who to blame: the parents. Ian's parents, that is, Curt and I. I will even say it is more my fault than Curt's. What happened?

Toddler swearing.

All of a sudden, WTF has become Ian's favorite phrase (he does not abbreviate). Whenever he gets frustrated, which is often because he's always into something, he now yells,"WTF".

We knew we needed to quit, but deployment and multiple international moves are not conducive to quitting. Pregnant friends out there, quit now. Quit before the baby is born. it will be easier than trying to quit later.

So, we do we do about potty mouth from an almost 2 year old?

According to Elizabeth Pantley in The No-Cry Discipline Solution:

1. Don't laugh.
2. Don't get angry.
3. Don't express shock or offense.

Any of the first 3 reactions give the words more power and will result in more use, especially from a toddler.

4. Ignore the first offense (he's well past the first offense)
5. Teach your child what is socially inappropriate. Ian doesn't really have a concept of appropriateness. I think he is too young for this right now.
6. Keep an eye on siblings, friends, and other adults (including yourself). We need to stop swearing. Hearing a child less than two say,"WTF" for 20 minutes in a row as he did the other day when I was putting him down for his nap has worked in getting us to stop cold turkey. Yikes!
7. Monitor TV shows and movies. AFN cuts the F-bomb out of shows and movies. Can't really blame tv for this one.

I am also working with him on asking for help, both verbally and through sign. Part of the swearing is language experimentation. The F-Bomb is such a satisfying word to say. It has a powerful hard sound that really helps to release frustration which is why so many people over-use it. I need to teach him some socially appropriate, yet, fun to say words and then use them instead of the F word so hopefully he will make the switch.

Any suggestions?

Please, pregnant friends, don't find yourself in this bad parent situation that I am in. Quit now.

On the plus side, he is using "please" and "thanks" a lot more lately. A little redemption for the bad parent!


Connie said...

Brian surprised us with a perfectly applied "oh s**t" right after he turned 2yo. It was startling, but we managed to not react in shock because he had dropped something and responded with a well-placed curse. Hmm? How to explain that, while he'd used this word 'properly' as he'd heard us and other adults, kids should not use such language?? We talked to him about doing things that upset other people. We reminded him of a kid who liked to call names in day care and how that had upset him. Would he want to upset his (beloved!) teacher? We gave him 'control' of knowing that he had a powerful bad word in hand, but we did our best to equate the use of it to things he did not like: someone calling him anything but his name; teasing; not asking before taking (and other bad manners).

Honor used some good curse words at a young age too - thankfully she got her colorful vocabulary from Sponge Bob. "Oh Tartar Sauce!", "Barnacles!", etc. Would giving Ian an alternate fun phrase to say distract him? Maybe you start using something silly and tell him that he can use it too if he is good?

Both kids will use "Darn it!" or "Dang", etc. now - not just for shock value, but in their proper places. I've caught some flack from other parents about that, but really, they have to have something to use! Where better to learn proper and improper use of words than mom and dad. "Yes, you applied that word properly, but you should keep that one to yourself, immediate family, or trusted friends who will not be offended or get in trouble if they start using it!" I also remind them that if they get used to using something at home though, they might accidentally use it at school - I might allow it, if not abused, but the teacher may not be so forgiving.

We continue to talk about bad words that they come across. "That's one of those bad words that you shouldn't use - yea, mommy shouldn't have said it either. I'm sorry!"

My kids are older, but I still think it is wise not to make a big deal of a newly learned words, and not make cursing taboo! Taboo is invariably exciting, spicy, and tempting.. things I do not want them to consider cursing to be. I want it to be 'just words', so what, whatever...!!

Cairo Mama said...

Glad I am not the only one! Ian is using the phrase in its proper place, not for shock value, but I'd rather he use other words. I'd rather I use other words. While swearing feels good to me when I am doing it. I hate to hear Curt swear. It is unbecoming. I think we all need to work on handling our frustrations better.

Blacktating said...

I am awful, but I laughed out loud when I read this! I am sorry, but it's too cute (although I would be horrified as well if it were my son). Anyway, when I was a teenager and dating my current partner, we always had to be very careful with the language we used around his mom so I got used to saying "dang" and "shoot." It's hard to quit completely, but it was easy to remember to keep my mouth clean around her.
I like Connie's idea of using a funny phrase, like "oh tartar sauce!" When I was little I thought "swizzle sticks" and "fiddle dee dee" were hilarious. Good luck with this and keep us updated. I'd love to know if these techniques work before my little peanut turns 2.

Connie said...

I think swizzle sticks and fiddle-dee-dee are hilarious! ;-D

sharon said...

It sounds terrible, but I am hoping that Emma will pick up some swear words! That's coz daddy's is a consistent swearer and I've been trying to get him to quit for years. Hopefully a swearing toddler will finally make him realize why he needs to stop.

Cairo Mama said...

It is a hard habit to break!

Crunchy Domestic Goddess said...

i'm sorry, but i'm LOL. ;) of course, you know i ran into a similar incident today with "sh*t." it's so hard to not laugh or react when they do it.
good luck! :)