My Seven Year Old Is Swearing! Help!
We recently had a large family gathering at a park. Many of the cousins were playing on the playground when one of the older kids spotted the dreaded f-bomb comprehensibly (shockingly!) etched on the swing set! My 7-year-old daughter, who now reads, mispronounced it but her cousin (thanks for nothin’) corrected her. Now she can’t let it go…and I am sick about it. She’s only 7!
I have been one to drop a bomb, but have refrained from doing so in front of the kids-miraculously. I know it may not be such a big deal but I am sick about it. My first born…my baby. I thought we had a few more years. She does NOT know what it means, and trying not to give it too much power, we have told her it’s one of those bad words we don’t ever talk about. She later asked if she could tell her friend and we said NO! So it’s taking up a portion of her brain. “Stupid”, “shut-up”, “dammit”, “sh…” I could handle, but the bomb has me riddled. What is the best way to handle this?
I know exactly how you feel; remember my story of Cole and the x-rated text? I, too, thought he was too young to be dropping those words and that I had a little more time. But thanks to TV, friends, even helpful (ha) cousins, our kids are exposed to a lot, much of it sooner than we would like. The difference between Cole and your daughter is that Cole knew EXACTLY what the word was, what it meant and that it was bad. Not so for your girl.
There are a couple of ways you can go here. The first is to ignore it altogether. As I have said in this space before, the reason people do stuff is because they get a reaction from their behavior. If you didn’t flinch or bat an eye or even correct her when she started using the salty sailor talk, it would ultimately go away. But I can imagine that might be tough as she shouts the expletive over her Cheerios. Therefore I am going to recommend a different approach.
3. Stick To Your Guns
If you want this to be successful, you are definitely going to have to follow through. You daughter is only going to understand how serious this infraction is if you stay true to your word. This is a big deal to you; it needs to be a big deal to her as well. To that end, the punishment should incorporate enough pain or discomfort that she will remember it the next time she is tempted to launch into the playground profanity. In the grand scheme of things, this really isn’t too big a deal. You are going to lay down the ground rules and she will follow. The bigger issue is for you is to understand that you are not a failure as a parent because your daughter was smart enough to sound out something she saw written on a playground. Our kids are going to see and hear a lot of things as they grow up; it’s imperative that we as parents provide the context. Don’t worry, mommy, you’ll be great! Good luck! Do you have a question for Rene? She has an answer! Click here and fire away! (Editor's Note: This piece ran in its original format on 10/20/2010)