So. The swearing. At the risk of jinxing everything, I will tell you that we have pretty well eradicated the preschooler’s swearing habit. (And today I have learned that ‘eradicate’ means to pull up by the roots. Hmm.)
How did we finally do it, you may ask? We’re not exactly sure what worked, and if it was really something we did or if it was that magical combination of it losing its luster for him and the preschool teacher being more of a hard ass than us.
Here are some more things that we ended up trying, in case you’re in the same boat and want some ideas.
1. At the suggestion of the preschool director, at home we had a designated “Swearing Zone” where he could swear without repercussion. That designated area was his bedroom. This worked incredibly well, for a day. After that, if he swore outside of his bedroom, and we asked him to go to his bedroom to say those words, then not going in there became just another way to defy us.
2. Also at the suggestion of preschool teachers, we created a new “bad” word, that wasn’t really bad, and insisted he not say that word. For example, “Oh, you can say ‘shit’, just promise me you won’t say ________.” Our made up word was “figgle”. And this approach worked well. Almost TOO well. Because he will only whisper “figgle”, or he will say it in his room. And he will apologize when he says it. But, it never made a dent in his use of the other (actually bad) words.
3. The approach we think actually got the job done: He got six colorful bracelets at the mall, plastic and filled with sparkles. He wears them around his ankle, which make him “a cool rock star”. He’s very proud of them, and they are one of his most prized possessions at the moment. So, we made a rule that every time he said a swear word, he lost one bracelet (with the option to earn them back with good behavior). This turned out to be an incredibly effective method. The first time he had to lose a bracelet, he was so distraught over it, we very nearly caved and gave it back. But, we held strong, and with a few more hiccups, he got the hang of it.
And, it’s been weeks since we’ve heard a swear word out of his mouth. We’ve even slipped and said them in front of him, and expected a full-blown relapse in return, but he just points out our misstep, and moves on.
Next thing on the list to break him of: the toilet talk. What is it with boys this age? If I had a dime for every time he yelled “POOP!” at the top of his lungs in public…But, at least it’s not an obscenity.