My son has a new love. Before you go thinking that's adorable and everything, let me add that he is in love with the phrase, "Damn it!"
It used to be that he would pull this out only at home, but yesterday afternoon when I picked him up from daycare he yelled it at me. YELLED. It. At. Me. At daycare. Where, coincidentally, his teachers work. Teachers who, in my fantasy life, still think I'm a reasonably good mother.
Naturally, I responded by acting shocked, as if I'd never heard him do that before. Because if I had, obviously I would have immediately done something so powerful and awe-inspiring as to put an end to that behavior. Immediately. Obviously.
And now I have to think of something powerful and awe-inspiring that will put an end to this behavior. Because so far? Nothing I've tried has worked.
I'll tell you one thing we have not tried. This advice, from a book called Discipline Without Shouting or Spanking (written, as far as I can tell, by someone who has never met an actual child): "Tell him to practice saying the offending statement for one minute for each year of age to make the phrase lose its power."
First of all, really? If I could control what does and does not come out of my kid's mouth in the slightest, would I have this problem in the first place?
And second, I know for a fact this does not work. I know because we tried it on my daughter a few years ago.
(Are you done laughing yet? No? I'll wait.)
From this little experiment, we all learned a valuable lesson. The only thing that disturbs parents more than hearing their four-year-old curse is hearing their four-year-old curse for four minutes straight. And that is not information you want falling into the wrong hands. Trust me on this. (Hint: You lose.)
Also high on my list of ways not to get your child to stop swearing: Giving a five-minute time-out every time he says the word. By the time he gets to the top of the stairs on his way to the first time-out, he will have accumulated enough additional time-outs to last until his next birthday. Eventually, you will get tired of serving him meals in his room. Or someone at school will notice he's missing. (You lose again!)
Hey -- I know! Maybe I'll just go find the person who taught him this in the first place, and make her deal with it.