16 Jul

Is giving Gaalis or swearing good for your kid? Or not?

What is Swearing?

Swearing means using specific words that are offensive to castes, religions or races. Swearing portrays anger, frustration, and irritability.

For example, imagine you are watching an interesting serial on TV. Your child who is 8 years old, who is the apple of your eye, is playing with his toy on the sofa next to you. The fan above you is making a gentle whirring noise. A small part of you is waiting for the pressure cooker’s third whistle that will indicate khichdi is ready. Life is perfect. But, you are shocked beyond belief when you hear your child swear at the toy who is refusing to obey his commands.

The pressure cooker is making its third whistle. You are too shocked to move. The serial is moving towards its climax. You don’t give a damn about it.

You turn towards your child and ask ‘What did you just say?’. He looks composed and doesn’t answer queries as it seems necessary to him. He plays nonchalantly with his toy which is now, behaving properly.

Shock turns to anger. You raise your voice and ask him again, ‘What did YOU just SAY?’. Your apple understands, maybe he has just done something wrong. He avoids eye contact and says, ‘Nothing’.

Anger gets mixed with betrayal. Your trust in your child’s innocence and goodness has just quaked. Oh! Anger + betrayal is a deadly combination. You snatch the toy from his hands and in a stern voice say, ‘How can you use such word? Where did you learn it from? This is not expected of you!”…so on and so forth.

Your child is least impressed with your tirades. He sighs and waits for the tsunami to get over. He makes disinterested eye contact with you and your anger intensifies into a knot in your stomach. Traces of guilt have begun to emerge. ‘Where did you go wrong in parenting your child?’. You feel like crying.

We have heard complaints from parents about their children swearing or as in Hindi we call it ‘Gaali dena’. Parents are shocked by the word their kid just spoke. Common reactions are –

  1. Where did you learn that?
  2. What did you just say?
  3. Who taught you that?
  4. We do not use such words in the house.

At what age does swearing start?

Kids from their school days know the inappropriate words or even use them. Some use it often. Some use it rarely. They have their own reasons to use such inappropriate language. Abusive language can start from any age-

1. Toddlers

Children learn words when they hear them often. Their age is all about mirroring everything they learn. That is why these kids would love to walk in their mother’s high heels even when those heels are super over-sized. They are learning languages, exploring new words and love getting the word right, just like adults say it.  It’s funny to see them saying the words with the right expressions even when they do not understand the meaning of those words. Ignore the swearing they do. Replace it with another code word.                                   

For example, instead of saying ‘shit’ when they spill something, teach them to say ‘aiyoooo’. They will learn fast. React with exaggerated emotions when they say the word you want them to say. Ignore, when they say the word that you want them to drop. This has worked for many many parents.

2. Pre-teens ( 8 to 12 )

They pick up specific words from their parents or school or movies or servants or even their caretakers. You might want to just make them understand that such words hurt the sentiments of other people.

3. Teenagers

The basic place where they pick up such words is from their school or colleges or their glamorous idols. The company they have influences them a lot at this stage of their life. Their friends might have heard some cuss words and have just passed the trend on.

What are the reasons behind such behavior?

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1. Anger and Frustration:

The basic way of using gaalis and the best way to portray your emotions is through swearing. ‘Gussa ho toh gaaliyan dedo. Halka hojaega mann.’ This is the patent excuse of people all over the world. It’s the same with our children. When they feel angry or frustrated, they will use swearing as a method to overcome that anger.

2. Fitting in:

Kids swear to fit in peer social groups. Certain kinds of company can trigger such behavior. In the latest generation, breaking rules and doing bad disrespectful things are the new ‘Cool’. Your child might use swearing as a way to get into the group of ‘Cool’ peers.

Children pick up words like S**t, F**k, As****e, D*mn, B*t*h, and many more from their parents or their friends and other relatives or from media. It’s not necessary that children know what the words mean. Some might just use it because it sounds good of their tongue or their social friends say it or they believe it’s ‘Cool’ to say it.

Where does swearing come from in our children?

1. In the house:

Parents who use abusive language might unknowingly teach their child to learn the language. Such children tend to become stubborn, difficult, abusive and might even teach such things to other children.

2. TV shows and movies:

Actors swear because it’s the demand of the script. Children consider the actors as their role models. They believe, to be like these actors, they have similar mannerisms. The young mind truly believes swearing will take them to success. There are such movies too where swearing is strictly banned in the households of the children like the movie Chillar Party or the Hollywood movie Orphan.

3. At school:

 Some friends who have a bad family history or lifestyle might bring such words into your child’s life. Not every friend is going to be a good friend. Some are there to stay, some to teach and some to just simply leave. I think that’s the motto of life. Every friend won’t be trustworthy or loyal, and this your child will learn later on in life.
Are you tired of your child’s swearing? Have you tried every way to get rid of it but nothing seems to help?

Ways to handle swearing in your child:

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Whenever you find your child swearing, direct them. Tell them when and how to not use/use such words. Make them understand why and how these words are offensive to some races, castes or religions. You should understand why and how are they swearing. Understand their perspective of swearing. Children need to learn how swearing affects others’ emotions and sentiments. Warning! Don’t laugh at the child when he/she swears. The only reason why children swear more and more because of the sudden reaction they get from their parents. When they will want your attention, they will say a word and you’ll be on full alert and that’s how they get your attention.

1. Smart Punishment:

Some parents also use punishments as a way of ridding their children of swearing. Swear and your screen time goes down. Swear and its Rs 100/- less pocket money.  These smart punishments are used to stop your child use abusive language.

2. Let it be:

You can let them be. They will eventually learn the bad words in their teenage years so just let it be. This is workable only when kids do not know the meaning of the swear words. Well, these are some ways you can handle your child who is swearing. Try all these out and see which one works the best for you!

3. School:

Swearing is not appreciated anywhere around the world. The first trial use of swearing does not happen at home but at the school or with peers in the housing society, we live in. Whenever a student faces issues like bullying, beating up or swearing, the head of the discussion is always the school counselor.

What do the research reports have to say?

  • Research shows that swearing is linked with honesty, better vocabulary, better connection with peers and is also helpful to process and handle anger.
  • Research also says that swearing is good for increasing your pain tolerance. Swearing gives comfort and makes it manageable to tolerate the anger against those who use it often.

WOW Parenting’s take –

We believe, swearing indicates, loss of self-control and loss of respect for the target of our swearing. We believe, it will always harm relationships. Swearing may complicate matters and aggravate delicate situations. Also, it will reduce our expectations for ourselves to handle and solve a situation. For eg. when we count our troubles we will end up swearing. When we count our blessings we will feel gratitude and think about solving the complication.

We suggest to parents to learn ways to either master your emotions or channelize your emotions. We similarly suggest, learn ways to help the kids master their emotions and productively channelize their emotions.
From our end, swearing is a complete NO, NO!

Parenting Coach/Expert @ WOW Parenting Naren is a dreamer and a people lover. An unshakable optimist, he strives towards building a better world where everyone has a beautiful story to tell. He strongly believes that incredible parenting can change every human being’s life journey to something phenomenal. And that is his “Why” for building Wow Parenting.

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