Oh baby, watch your mouth
What do you do when your 5 year old says F***?
So you’ve raised a little princess. She’s naïve, innocent and 5 years old. Excited about her first day at school, she soaks up everything she sees and hears, including the vile and dirty.

Being this very little princess, I ran into my mother's arms after school one day; and with a crystal clear, high-pitched voice; said f***. In my mind I was proud, this was something I hadn’t been taught and could now teach my mom. Not!

She could have dashed for the ‘wooden spoon’, as it was then referred to, and beaten the sweetness out of me. Sensitive to the situation, though, she didn’t. Instead she disciplined me in a way I never quite forgot, with gentleness and love. Kneeling down next to me, she explained the naughtiness of the word, no judgment, no demands.  Appealing to my understanding of right and wrong, she left the decision as to what to do about the word to me. So I promptly threw it out of my new list of vocabulary.

The word ‘love’ however also became something of a confusion. Aged six, I was apparently the only dear who didn’t realise that love could exist between guy and girl. So when a fellow class-mate got knocked by a car and we were all required to write get-well cards, I made the ‘mistake’ of writing: Get Well, I love you. Sofia. 

Again my eyes darted in dismay as I observed the others sniggering, while the ‘knocked-over’ victim smiled at me, almost saying: "oh baby, oh baby, meet me after school…"

So ‘love’ and the f-word were now taboo.

Just the other day, I came across a father and son situation. The father swore and told the son not to ever say such a bad word. The son, of course, mimicked it immediately – no doubt a surprise present for mom when he got home. Because daddy’s perfect, especially at 4 years old, and to be grown up like dad, you have to say big words that have no meaning.

I think the longer you can keep them innocent the better. When they do eventually come home and ask the meaning of f***, sex and oral (which we also found out about at school), you can gently appeal to their sense of right and wrong, while still keeping them pure; at least to some extent.  While washing their mouths out with soap might seem quick and easy, it’s a punishment unduly delivered, and you’d probably lose trust in the eyes of your princess, as she cognitively registers the situation as: ‘I’ll never tell mom anything new again!’

So come the mid and latter years of primary school, your kid will either be sprouting sonnets, or talking gutter. They’ve been taught the difference, have been given the decision and decided to follow a particular path – no matter how crooked it may be.

Do you think it's okay for young children to swear?

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