Research scientist explains why we should be teaching our kids to swear.

In an article posted in The Sunday Times, Ms Byrne is quoted as saying:

“Swearing is part of children’s social development,” Emma Byrne said.

“Learning how to use swearing effectively, with the support of empathetic adults, is far better than trying to ban children from using such language.

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“We try to keep strong language away from kids until they know how to use it effectively. I strongly argue that we should revise this attitude.

Ms Byrne’s call for swearing to be acceptable follows research looking at why people in all cultures swear at all. It found that profanity soothes the brain and even relieves pain.

“Children whose parents model for them appropriate usage of swearing are far more likely to not get in trouble for using it inappropriately. Whereas those who are left to learn it in the playground, who then don’t actually know where the limits are.”

“Talking honestly about why people swear helps to demystify not just the words, but also the emotions of the people around them. You’re helping them develop that all-important theory of mind. Children need to learn how swearing affects others.”

What do you think? Do you allow your child to say the odd bad word? What do you class as a swear word apart from the obvious ones. Do you also ban words like – crap and bum?

Share your comments below

  • I swear all the time in front of my children but they know what they are and that they are not allowed to say them.


  • I know a guy who by sheer coincidence was a farmer. Amongst the other guys during a conversation in an appropriate part of what he was talking about or if something went wrong he would swear (but not all that often) but never in front of the children, women and certainly not in the house. I have to admit I have regardless of where I have sworn when I have hurt myself. (“shit that hurt”) I have usually usually ended up with quite a bruise or patch of skin missing.


  • I let my children listen to others swearing in the street then asked did they think it was OK. Got a resounding NO from all of them and doubt they swear much even now. They thought it sounded awful


  • It depends on the age of the children. They need to be old enough to understand.


  • we are starting to relax a little with swearing words because my kids 9 and 11 are hearing them a lot in the playground and after school where kids hang around at a park near the school.
    I tell my kids that there are always other ways to express a word instead of using a swearing word.
    sometimes swearing words can lead to a wrong message sent and ended up in the wrong place. I just tell them to pretty much ignore them if they can or walk away.
    my mother still have a problem with us saying butt or bum so we have to say bottom. im still telling her to chill as its what people say now days and even in kids books there are words such as stupid and idiot. I get my kids to skip the word when they are reading because they always look at me and say should I say the word especially when they do reading at school.
    at home we can jokely say don’t be such an arse, or arsehole which we have started lately.
    when im mad, I say freaken instead of f%$#ing.
    its hard now days, my kid say why do adults swear but children cant?


  • I got into a lot of trouble when I was little for saying “heck” when I was little. That’s nothing to what the kids say nowadays. My boys don’t swear in front of others because we never did in front of them. Can’t say if it’s a good thing or a bad thing today


  • I don’t use swear words but kids learn it from friends at school who constantly swear


  • I grew up in a household where nobody swore, my husband grew up in a household where it wasn’t part of every day language, but the odd swear word would get thrown around. I personally don’t like the sound of swear words in a child’s voice, but I understand that it’s bound to happen sooner or later, as my husband is more lax with it than I am!


  • I absolutely hate swearing so I won’t allow my son to swear. I tell my bosses off for swearing including the C-level guys.


  • Hmmm, interesting topic. We’re not a house that generally swears however, now my son is in his late teens I’ve noticed that swearing can often be part of his conversation. I’ve also noticed that my husband swears more when he is with male friends. Obviously, my son is role modelling. I certainly pull him up on it regularly and advise him it’s inappropriate in most situations. However, I understand it can be a language that is used with mates as a social norm. I think it’s about how you swear too, and when it is aggressive and mean vs funny, makes a huge difference.


  • What a load of rot. I actually don’t swear myself as in c***, s*** and f***, I also won’t say ‘oh my God’, etc. and I also don’t permit my kids to say ‘crap’, ‘friggen’, ‘wanker’ and various other words that are a little rude but not really classed as swearing. In all honesty, there is no need to say swear words and nothing sounds more horrible than little kids saying awful words. It just shows you have a low vocabulary and makes you sound uneducated. Much better without them.


  • Thankfully my daughter doesn’t really swear, and I will continue to model good behaviour and language.


  • We don’t swear in my house at all. And our daughter never did either.
    I would never teach a child to swear, but that’s my opinion.


  • No need to teach it as they will use it at some point. Parents just need to model the appropriate use!

    • Language in all forms needs to be used and modelled appropriately. We never make a big fuss over language and there are rules around the use of language too.


  • We try not to make a big deal of it, but we have explained to our kids why ome words or expressions might upset other people.


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