Parrotting dirty words

So your 1 year old unexpectedly repeats a dirty word just like she repeats other words.  What should you do?

If at all possible, do not react.  Act as though what she said is not really a word.  Then redirect her attention with a question like “Where’s your nose?”  Most children need to repeat a word several times in order to commit it to memory.  If she starts thinking about something else, the undesirable word is less likely to be remembered.

If you are reading this and thinking s***! it’s ok.  Lots of parents make the initial mistake of acknowledging when their kids say dirty words.  If your child is still learning to talk, this will be easier.  I often use a rhyming word in a phrase.  Kids mispronounce things all the time and we correct them.  It will be nothing new for your child.  For example, F***! from your child could be followed by “Duck says quack. Quack! Quack!  What does a dog say?”  Once again, the child’s last thought is about something unrelated to the dirty word.

Simontaneously, those who use dirty words need to clean up their language.  (Oops! is always socially acceptable.)  Sometimes this means someone needs to stop yelling “Shut up!” at the dog when he is barking too much.  Realistically, anything that kids hear repeatedly will probably become part of their vocabulary.  It takes a few days to mostly break the bad habit of expletives and months to completely retrain yourself.  For guests in your home, a cute money jar can help.  Label it something like Michelle’s College Fund, Each Dirty Word $1.

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