Sure, boogers, booty, and snot were words that made your kid giggle when they were ages 6 or 7.
Little did you know that fast forward 2 or 3 years, real curse words like the f-bomb would make your heart sink. Especially if words like that are flying from your precious tween’s lips.
How does it start?
There are many theories. Do we really want to blame Captain Underpants? He was the one who got a lot of our kids, especially our boys, to love reading.
Do we want to blame certain TV shows like The Simpsons or Family Guy?
Or, do we dare, blame ourselves?
Whoever we want to blame, we should at least talk to our kids about cursing/derogatory language, see if we can shed light on why they do it and help them come up with different ways of expressing themselves.
You know the drill. Same scene, kids are just performing it at a different age. The scene (goal) is to get your attention.
Shock value gets higher ratings.
The old “look mom, look at me.” And when you don’t “look” they have to do something even more drastic to get your attention.
Same thing applies here. Tweens are all about showing us just how independent they are and sometimes they go to great lengths to impress others. Social media hasn’t helped us in that area but as parents, we lay the foundation. Honestly, that’s about all we can do because kids grow and as they do, they learn from doing.
So, what’s in your “laying the foundation” toolbox when it comes to talking to your tween about cursing and other potty, derogatory language?
Dealing with this type of behavior with your tween and don’t know what to say? Add these touchpoints to your conversation:
Swear words and any derogatory language are not tolerated in our home.
This becomes very different if your tween is cursing or using derogatory language directed at you, family members or other authority figures. In these types of situations, please be sure to seek help from licensed professionals.
Filthy language, even on social media, is not cool.
Get their thoughts on cursing.
What’s the difference between calling someone a jackalope (my husband does it all the time) and an MF? Ask your tween if, by using curse words, do they feel empowered or more like an adult? Cursing can paint an unflattering picture of the person using the words. There have been times when I’ve cursed at an insane driver on the interstate and felt completely stupid afterwards because they didn’t even hear the choice selection I picked for them. But using those words allowed me to express emotions and in that situation I was angry.
Put the shoe on the other foot.
BFFs sometimes greet each other with “hey b*tch!”. What they are actually trying to say is “hey girl, hey friend, hey BFF”. Many African Americans greet each other with “n***er”. Again, they are greeting or having a conversation with friends and by using that word, they are expressing the closeness they feel towards their friends. Does any of that make it any better? Of course not! It sounds horrible to hear people greet each other this way.
Go ahead, put it out there. Ask your tween how they would feel if they were greeted this way. Or what if parents used derogatory language towards the tween constantly, how would that feel?
As a parent who has already raised a tween, who is now a young adult. I remember the first time I heard him curse. Of course, it was on Facebook. There were even times when he would slip up during a conversation between the two of us. I remember having a discussion with him because I was a bit offended, seeing as how I don’t curse in front of them. But wait, you think he overheard me that one time?
Here’s the thing, no matter how many parental controls we set up, tweens will get to certain things we don’t want them to get to. It becomes a treasure map, the more we try to keep them from it, the more they search for it. The key to getting through this stage, with the end result being a child who has developed self-efficacy, is keeping the conversations alive between the two of you. Talk to them, even when they mumble responses back to you.
How did you handle hearing your child utter their first curse words?