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CURB CUSSING

The fact that we are all subjected to dreadful language on TV, in movies, and sometimes when we are just walking along the street does not mean we have to listen to it in our homes.

How can parents make their home a cuss-free zone?

First of all BOTH parents have to curb their own salty language. This can be harder than it sounds because we may not realize that our own speech is suffering from “cuss creep.” The occasional “darn it” has morphed into frequent “dammits.” We all know what happened to “Oh shoot” and “I screwed up.”

One couple I know, motivated by their toddler who somehow was able to imitate swear words more distinctly than any other words, put a big bowl on the kitchen table. Any utterance of an unspeakable word resulted in a five dollar fine with the proceeds earmarked for charity. It worked, the parents cleaned up their language.

Be sure your children know which words are unacceptable. When you hear an offending word for the first time, quietly kneel down and whisper something like. “We don’t use that word in our family.” The intimate whisper gets the child’s attention and the word is not used again or not as often.

Use appropriate discipline if the bad language gets out of hand. Today children hear totally unacceptable language on TV or around the neighborhood. If your four year old is in the habit of using such words, put the child in time-out. Here is one place it is suitable to use a warning because children may not know that they have used an offensive word — after all it was on TV. “That word is never acceptable. If you use it one more time you must go into time-out!” If the word pops out again, put the child in the time-out place. When the timer goes off, tell the child, “The rule is no swearing. If you use that word, then you must be timed-out.”

Monitor and limit TV. If your child hears people on TV using unacceptable words, use the opportunity to say, “We don’t use those words. There are zillions of words people can use instead. Let’s think of some or look in the dictionary.”

Remember to stress the six-letter words in your house: please and thanks. These are much better than those four-letter words you have eliminated.

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