It’s been said that the tongue is the strongest muscle in the body. If you have kids or spend any part of your day with them, you know that it is also the weakest. You may not even think about it anymore. It could be that it’s automatic for you to swear when you stub your toe, spill your coffee, or lock your keys in your car. But what if you have children, of any age, who are taking cues from you? How can parents and caregivers avoid adding to the swirl of swear words, which are interlaced in our sons’ and daughters’ worlds through social media and other interactions? Changing our attitude and adjusting our vocabulary may be the key to raising confident and caring kids.
Cursing Because of Stress
The key to relieving stress in most situations is to have an optimistic outlook on life. From experience, I know this means speaking positively, letting things go, and making the best of it. This attitude adjustment starts with our language—the choice of words we use to express ourselves during these trying times. If you have children, keeping your words in check benefits not only you, but also them. “Children learn what they live,” as the old saying goes. Because they also speak what they hear, it is just as important to be conscious of how we, as parents, express ourselves around them.
First, being a parent means you are also your son or daughter’s first teacher. From the way you treat the server at the restaurant to how you respond to a rude driver on the street, your son or daughter takes social cues from you. Subconsciously, they are learning that what you do and how you handle situations is the correct way. After all, you are Mom or Dad, and you should know, right?
Secondly, your language is a reflection of your outlook on life, and that can be contagious, for better or for worse. You, as the parent or caregiver, have the power to set the tone in any situation. If you use a four-letter word each time something disappoints you, your son or daughter will soon be adopting the same response when something does not go his or her way. If, on the contrary, you respond positively to situations such as saying, “Oh well, let’s try something else,” or “That was fun while it lasted,” your son or daughter will start seeing that there is always another way, especially when there is a smile on your face.
Finally, although we may not always wear rose-colored glasses, and because we live in an imperfect world filled with adversity, you should not feel guilty if you do not always handle it perfectly. The real lesson lies in how you rectify the situation or behavior. For example, if you totally lost your cool with a store clerk, make a point of apologizing to them in front of your son or daughter. If it is too late, or you are no longer there, talk it through with your child and point out how you were wrong for handling it the way you did. Use that opportunity to grow, and prevent it from happening again. It’s important for your son or daughter to see how you are stronger and better for it.
Positive Lasting Effects
Being conscious of your behavior makes you more aware of your language, too. Watching your language will eventually become less of an effort and more of a lifestyle. As parents, we want the best for our children, and we demand it from their schools and caregivers, which is why we should give them the best of us. By being mindful of how we deal with stress, how we express ourselves, and how we fix it when we fail, we can raise children who are caring and conscious of their behavior, knowing that they can impact the world around them.
Amelia Orozco is the senior editor and writer at the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo and a community and entertainment reporter for TeleGuía Chicago. A mother of three, Amelia also maintains an active role in her community and church by working with youth and promoting education and diversity through her writing and volunteer efforts.