Potty mouth posse: are we encouraging children to swear?

cheeky child
cheeky child

I remember the first time I ever let a swear word slip. I was in Grade 4 and my brother, being his usual annoying self, made me so upset to the point where I dropped a hard F bomb on him. For a few seconds we were both shocked by what I'd said, you know, with me being the little angel, and my brother saw an opportunity and threatened to tell my mom. I burst out crying, but luckily he took mercy on me.

I knew swearing would get me into trouble. But now it seems that people have become so desensitised to children swearing... and some egg them on. Is it just an "each to their own" thing? 

What are your thoughts on children swearing? Is it a big no-no or are we overreacting? Let us know by emailing us at chatback@Parent24.com and we could publish your comments. Do let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous.

Do children inherently know which words are bad?

I know certain little children who would react with “you just said a bad word!” if I were to say something like “silly". They pick up which words are bad based on which words they are told are bad, perhaps in different contexts, and they sometimes make their own little variations.

Even words that just sound strange to children might be considered a bad word. Some kids are too shy to even repeat a bad word, while others are way more comfortable with it.

It is very relative to the child but kids generally know that swearing comes with consequences. That makes them more likely to gasp or police others, usually adults, who use it. For instance, take a look at the Jimmy Kimmel video below:

The internet seems to love it, though

YouTube and Facebook are flooded with home videos of kids losing their rag, dropping bombs all over the place. The parents find it so hilarious that they elicit this response, film it, and share it. And these videos quickly rack up thousands of views and shares. The internet usually loves and encourages it and these children become sensations.

A good example of this would be the 9-year-old "Lil Tay" who quickly became internet famous for her outlandish videos. To think, the reason she became this popular is because people actually want to see her being rude.

Could it be that people find the swearing appalling to a point that it becomes funny? Or do they just genuinely find children swearing hilarious? I think a lot of it has to do with the shock factor.

Videos where children seem more mature and behave like adults or stress about “adult things” and are “sassy” are also quite popular. These are usually "cute" and rather harmless, but as soon as cursing is involved, it becomes more "funny" and shareable.

In a new-age internet generation, sensationalism is the norm, so it is no surprise that this would be the space encouraging children to swear.

Are there instances where maybe it is okay for children to use curse words?

F-Bombs for Feminism, perhaps? No? 

A few years ago, a video called “F bombs for Feminism” did the rounds. Little girls voiced their "thoughts" (well, the script) about patriarchy, feminism, double standards and other issues revolving around those topics.  

WARNING: This video contains explicit language.

This video by activist group FCKH8 received a lot of backlash, with many feeling it would’ve been more powerful without the little girls swearing. 

Many people also believed that while what they're saying was relevant, and there were indeed more important issues in the world than little girls swearing, it still wasn't necessary and bordered on exploitation.

Based on the responses, and even the like-to-dislike ratio on the video, it's safe to say that a lot of people are still not happy with children swearing. 

What kids are exposed to

At the end of the day, it has a lot to do with what children are exposed to, and what is permissible in their household. 

More conservative parents will usually check children and discipline them for their foul language. 

The bigger issue is that children tend to repeat things and they will be likely to expose their language use to other children. Some children may use it to themselves while others may use it on others, and this can be damaging to a child's development and self-esteem. Children also receive things differently, so while one child may find their peers swearing funny, others may find it disturbing.

Ultimately, it seems that parents and conservatives are still very much against children swearing whereas younger generations and the internet seem to be okay with it. So you can rest easy knowing that not everyone is going to encourage swearing, but it really is about making sure your children are in the right spaces and that your rules on the matter are made clear.

What are your thoughts on children swearing? Is it a big no-no or just a silly thing children do? Let us know by emailing us at chatback@Parent24.com and we could publish your comments. Do let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous.

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