How To Stop Your Toddler Picking Up Rude Words

Alison Coldridge
·Editor Yahoo Style UK

When children are learning to talk and expanding their vocabulary, they soak up words like a sponge – sadly the bad ones, too.  

While it’s near impossible to make sure your tot avoids swear words and potty talk altogether, there are plenty of ways that you can limit his exposure to them and make sure he doesn’t make a habit of saying them.  

It’s never too early to teach your tot that certain words aren’t OK.

Children love trying out rude words they've heard other people say [Rex]
Children love trying out rude words they've heard other people say [Rex]

There’s No Escaping It – Children Are Fascinated By Naughty Words
Anything forbidden has a huge appeal to children – just like with us adults really.

“As a child’s vocabulary is expanding, he doesn’t understand the meaning of these words and often are just reacting to the adults’ reactions to them,” says Dr Amanda Gummer.

As soon as he hears a bad word, whether it’s at nursery or in public, he’ll want to try it out and impress you with it.

Put On Your Poker Face
The number one rule is not to react. “Where possible try and make sure your own language and facial expressions don’t give your child the idea that they’re getting extra attention for saying a rude word,” says Dr Gummer.

So don’t laugh when your adorable two year old says “bum face” for the first time and try not to get frustrated, either.

Try not to laugh when your toddler comes out with a rude word [Rex]
Try not to laugh when your toddler comes out with a rude word [Rex]

Claim Ignorance
Another alternative is to ignore the word entirely – at least the first time and especially in young children.

“You can pretend you didn’t hear it and ask your child to repeat the word,” says Dr Gummer. “You can then say ‘Do you mean (insert socially acceptable alternative).”

“If your child’s a little older, you can ask him if he really knows what the word means, then if appropriate you can explain what the word really means and why it’s not an appropriate word to say.”

Decide Which Words Are No-Go’s
Have a think about the words you think your little one shouldn’t say, as different people find different words rude.  

“Keep mind that it can depend on the context and you may think you’ll be relaxed about a word but when you hear it coming out of your child’s mouth is seems wrong, or vice versa,” says Dr Gummer.

“And a word you’d not have been allowed to say as a child may not be a big deal for you.”

'Fudge' is a popular swear word alternative [Rex]
'Fudge' is a popular swear word alternative [Rex]

Think Up Some Swerve Words
We’re all only human and guaranteed there’ll be a time when you stub your toe and can’t help screaming “f**k!” The solution? Get some alternatives ready. So “f**k’ becomes “fudge”. And “s**t” is now “sugar”. Catch our drift?

“Children learn by copying so do make sure you and the people you leave in charge of your children are consistent in the vocabulary you use and how you describe potentially rude objects/actions,” says Dr Gummer.

But make the words you use to vent your frustrations in place of swear words don’t sound too similar, or your smart little man might just catch on.

Monitor Screen Time
Your little one’s growing up in a hugely multimedia world – meaning that there are films, TV shows and songs playing everywhere that include rude words.

Keep an eye on what your child’s watching and where possible, try to watch films and television together to make sure he doesn’t change channel. Plus, parental locks on certain channels works like a charm.

[How To Encourage Reluctant Talkers To Communicate (In Six Simple Steps)]

[How To Develop Your Baby’s Vocabulary]

Has your toddler surprised you with any rude words? What are your tips? Let us know in the comments.