What Happens When Parents Use Profanity Around Their Kids?

When you get frustrated or angry, if you let loose with a blue-streak of objectionable language, it may not be long before you begin to hear your colorful words come back to you out of your kids’ mouths. When parents use profanity in front of children, unpleasant behaviors can result.

Everyday Language

If you regularly swear in everyday conversations when children overhear your speech, you should expect your children to repeat your words, warns James Lehman, with the Empowering Parents website 1. Kids have their eyes and ears on parents, regardless of whether they can understand everything being said. If you pepper conversations with obscene words, it’s likely you’ll hear these same words out of your kids, even when they have no idea what they’re saying.

Expressing Frustration

It’s common for people to engage in minor swearing when frustrated, states the American Academy of Pediatrics. Frustrated swearing is different from a verbal attack directed at someone. This might be the nasty word you utter when you whack your thumb with a hammer. If parents set this example of swearing in frustration, children are likely to imitate this behavior in similar situations 2.

Parental Hostility

When parents lose control and direct anger and frustration directly at a child, coupled with profanity, the result can have deep and far-reaching effects, states the LoveOurChildrenUSA website. These verbal attacks can wound a child in a real and devastating way. A child who hears these profane hostilities may take the hurtful words and internalize them, blaming and believing negative thoughts about himself. A child who learns this method of expressing anger is also likely to follow the example and verbally attack others when angry.

House Rules

The tolerance you have for profanity should have a direct correlation to your example, states the AAP. If you do not want your children using profanity, strive to set an example with your own speech, avoiding using profanity in everyday language, when frustrated or when angry. Create house rules that match your expectations and your example and your children are likely to follow your example and the house rules.