Monday, March 16, 2009

Sugar, Honey, Icing, Tea

This is apparently what a playgroup Dad has taught his son to say instead of swearing. I have to admit I've never heard the boy saying this, and I think it's pretty much a joke.

Swearing, the perrenial favourite, came up at playgroup a few weeks ago. Amusing things fathers do was a big one, and the weird ways other people have dealt with it. Someone knew someone who had actually made their child eat hot chili. And what was even stranger, when the daughter called them on their swearing, they ate it too.

Several Mums were heard to say "Ooh no, I'm too much of a potty mouth for that."

Well obviously I'm the weird one.

Don't get me wrong, I swear, and Widget swears. But to me it's a signal of a couple of different things. Firstly it means I'm swearing way too much if she's copying it, so I need to rein it back. Secondly, I need to look at the times and ways she's using it.

Consistency is one of the things we all know we should strive for in our parenting. We have to be consistent with their behaviour, their routines, or it's all going to end in tears. So why doesn't that apply to us to? How can I expect behaviours out of my 3 year old that I don't expect from myself? Why should her language be more perfect than mine? Swearing is just one example of consistency for me, if I make a mistake I acknowledge it and apologise, if she has a like or dislike I take it into account, if she does something for me I thank her. In other words, she is a full member of this family with the same rights, and she doesn't have expectations put on her that I wouldn't expect from myself.

As for times and ways, well there's a level of personal comfort isn't there. Language is a defining human feature, if we drop something on our toe we're going to say something. In practical terms it doesn't matter if we say 'shit' or 'sugar,' the intent is the same. But who likes to hear a toddler swearing? But why tell her off for it? She already copies "Oh dear" from me, if I make the substitution she's going to follow pretty quickly. It's a really superficial way of looking at swearing, but it's just plain 'not nice.'

Sometimes it's definitely for attention, so that's definitely ignored!

The one thing that she will absolutely always get into trouble for is swearing at someone. Because that is about respect. It's never happened so far and I can't see it happening soon, because she's never been sworn at. Again, I'm not perfect and I get frustrated with her just as much as the next person. I know I've said things to her that aren't nice, but I don't swear at her and I apologise afterwards.

So what do I do when she swears? Mostly I adjust my behaviour, usually I ignore it, occasionally I tell her she doesn't need to say that, what else could she say? Basically I try to be consistent.

1 comment:

Perfect Mum said...

Hmmm...yep I'm learning about this consistency thing..even with a background as a teacher! Somehow it was a whole lot easier to be firm, fair and consistent with a class full of children, than with just one of my own!