I call them “not nice” words, but you may call them “bad” words, “ugly” words, “gross” words or “negative” words. Alternatively, you may not call them anything because you may be a parent who does not filter language for and around your children.
What words do I consider “not nice” words? Well, some include, “ugly,” “fat,” “gun,” “shoot,” and “kill”. I can distinctly recall reading Dr. Seuss’ “A Fly Went By” to my oldest when she was about three years old and changing the words in the book when the page discussed the hunter man with the gun who shot to kill after hearing a frightening noise.
Still, with children ages, 5 1/2, 3 and 1 1/2, I regularly dilute my language. In our family, we use alternative words for private parts, we say “gosh” instead of “God” and we try to never use words like “stupid” or “weird”.
So, why is it that I avoid words that aren’t even considered “swear words”? In total truth, I know that kids like to parrot and mimic their parents. I don’t want my children walking around saying “gun,” “kill,” “stupid,” and “ugly”. When I see kids using words like that, I am disheartened by that behavior. But, you know what? I am not alone in this. Apparently, other people are bothered by the words in “A Fly Went By,” as there are customer reviews to potential buyers which warn of the language in the book.
Now, of course there are times when my husband and I break our unstated rule to not use those not nice words in front of our children. And, on the occasions that we do, we, unfortunately, usually use worse ones. Something about bad drivers and uncommon-sensical people brings out the swear words for myself and my husband, which are even harsher words than the ones we typical avoid. Hypocritical, right? Are we just doing all wrong?
In the end, our children are going to hear not nice words when they are not at home. New words amongst kids spread like a cold from child to child, so there is just no way of our child not being exposed to those “bad” and real-world words, sooner or later.
Maybe, instead of avoiding the words that I don’t want my child to use, I teach them the word. Seems counterproductive, but maybe not? Perhaps teaching them some of these words in an organized and structured fashion and devoting time to discussing what the word’s definition is important. Maybe children understanding what the word’s different meanings are, how, what and when people use that word, why he/she shouldn’t use the word and whether or not their use of the word is ever appropriate is also imperative. When children use certain language, they may not understand what their words literally mean. It is required of us as parents to educate them on this.
So, here is what I am going to do and maybe you should to. I’m going to stop filtering words that are not swear words. I am going say the word and I am going to help them understand the word. I will share with them why Mommy and Daddy don’t like the word and when it is appropriate/inappropriate to use. I am also going to aim to avoid swear words. If and when I flub up, which is inevitable, and they repeat my swear word, I am going to either ignore it or discuss it head-on, depending upon how often they have used the word and in what context.
What I believe is of utmost importance and will make the most difference in my children’s use of the English language, is whether or not I model and teach them manners and respect for themselves and for others, as that will ultimately influence how they use the words that they know and hear.