Hot Topic Alert!!!!
This is a topic that I’m sure you’ve been involved in at one time or another!
Children using swear words…..
Children pick up swear words from everywhere and if limits are not placed on them, the words continue to get used and have value for the child. If there is one thing that a child understands is that swear words come attached with emotions.
How else can a child have language syntax problems yet manage to use swear words in a grammatically correct manner? Right?! How else can a child have serious speech problems yet pronounce sh*t with perfect articulation??? I know you know what I’m talkin’ about!
Some children may be looking for a reaction to these words so it’s important to show little reaction as you work toward a remedy. I have a funny story to tell you about a close friend of mine who is a speech/language pathologist. PG-13 Alert here!!! She was working with a kindergartener who was a very angry little boy. He used swear words to get a reaction and to communicate with people just how angry he was. One day my friend went to his classroom to get him for his speech therapy session and he just looked at her and said, “Fuh you!” Her response? “OK, well, come on in here and let’s work on that /k/”. I chuckle every time I think about that!
As for my own experience, I wasn’t even out of the gate yet when I got introduced to a swearing child during a therapy session. I was in graduate school and I was working with a non-verbal three year old and being observed by my clinical supervisor and the child’s mother behind a viewing mirror. Now I must admit that I have a reputation for being something of a taskmaster. J I take that as a compliment because I know that if I’m doing quality speech/language therapy with a child, I need to find a way to get them to work so that I can see progress.
Anyway I was working with this sweet little girl who had never spoken a word. I don’t actually remember the task I was asking her to do, but I do remember that I was really pressing her for a response. After a few minutes of my prodding and pushing she said with exasperation, “OHHHHH, Damn it!”
As a young graduate student with almost no experience with parents of special needs children and total fear of what my supervisor would say now that I had pushed this child to a place of swearing, I was mortified at what had just happened! I was thinking, how could I have messed up so badly that the first words out of this child’s mouth were swear words????
Talk about emotions!!!
I apparently had driven this child to the brink and the only way she could get me to back off was to use the most powerful thing she had. Swear words! Well unbeknownst to me at the time, the little girl’s mother was jumping up and down behind the mirror and crying out of shear joy and relief that her daughter finally said something! She did not care in the least that it happened to be “Oh, damn it”. My supervisor gave me a rave review and I was dumbfounded.
When you find yourself with a child who is swearing, chances are they are trying to communicate some kind of emotion and just don’t know how to go about it in a more appropriate way.
How do you handle this? Take a look at my video and you’ll learn one very clever way to help with this challenging problem!
I don’t know about you, but we’re seeing students coming in to our schools swearing at younger and younger ages. This just isn’t a middle school/high school issue anymore. We’ve got elementary age students as young as kindergarten coming to us with some very colorful language.
These students need to understand a better way to communicate so even if we have to write out scripts for what to say during emotional conversations, so be it. Limits need to be set and replacement behaviors put into place.
Let me know how your new strategy works by leaving a comment on the site!
See you next time!