As anyone living or visiting Miami in the past month has noticed, traffic has been ridiculously, horribly, unbearably bad. Between the boat show (which apparently takes 8 weeks to set up and break down), high season, Wine &Food Fest, and construction, you better plan on doubling your driving time wherever you go.
Thus, my mood in the car has been less than Snow-Whitey. And my mouth in the car…let’s just say Carol Brady would not be proud. I do try to reel it in, of course, when the kids are around but when you get two different bridges up between work and school pick-up, adding 25 minutes to your drive that you don’t have, and therefore have to pay $10 for after-care, it’s hard to be civil.
Which might explain why, the other day at home, we heard my two year-old say “Fu**ing Truck!” Frozen, my husband and I stared at each other unsure of what to do. Said toddler of course picked up on something going on, so my husband jumped in and yelled “Funny truck!” and we moved on to something else.
I felt guilty, to say the least. In my defense, I come from a long line of swear words learned in the car. My mother – a brilliant and refined English professor, couldn’t control herself during her notorious road rage. Kids swearing has been in the news quite a bit lately, partly because of this video, which is basically worst case scenario (warning: If you haven’t seen this, you will probably laugh for a moment, then be offended and horrified. The good news is that child services took this kid away, so he might have a fighting chance).
So, what to do about this (other than watch my OWN mouth, which is obviously the source of the problem)? Well, I did some research and it seems the first and best line of defense is to of course, ignore it. Especially if they are young and using the words as a “plug in” (i.e. not because they are frustrated or mad). Mostly, they are just copying something they heard (oops) and trying for a reaction. So, when given that reaction they will naturally, keep it up. This article addresses that approach and actually discusses ignoring as a parenting tool in general. I found it really interesting and know this is something I could work on personally.
If you have an older child who is using swearing on purpose, i.e. figured out it’s naughty and is purposefully trying for attention or using it in anger, this article addresses that. Some good tips and transitions.
So, lessons learned: Watch your mouth in the car even during traffic, and make sure you don’t have Howard Stern on the radio by accident when you start your day with kids in the car (what? who, me?).