Why your kid swearing is okay, according to science

OH, all the times we have said the 's' and 'f' words in front of our kids and lived to regret it.

A friend of mine's kid was Skyping his grandparents, when at age three he decided to ask them the question 'What the f*uck?'

Or the time my child watched a YouTube video where someone let loose an F bomb and innocently asked: 'Are those people driving?' She only ever hears me swearing while things are going wrong in traffic.

It's hard not to laugh, but at the same time there's guilt attached.

But one neuroscientist wants to remove the swear jar from the kitchen bench.

Artificial intelligence researcher and author, Emma Byrne believes it helps children understand language and emotion, the Sunday Times reported.

"Swearing is part of children's social development," she said.

"We try to keep strong language away from kids until they know how to use it effectively," but she added, "I strongly argue that we should revise this attitude.''

Should we teach children to swear 'effectively'?

This poll ended on 20 September 2018.

Current Results

Yes

42%

No

57%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

She said that teaching kids to swear 'effectively' is better than a ban on rude words.

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

She argues that it's important for kids to understand the emotions of people who are swearing. And that if a parent bans swearing outright, the words and the emotions behind them will remain shrouded. 

"Children need to learn how swearing affects others,'' she said.

Byrne has written the book Swearing is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language.

She wrote an article for Wired, where she shared research that swearing made pain feel less intense. She cited a study in which shouting a swear word increased pain tolerance more than shouting a neutral word. Swearing sparked a heart rates increase, activating a flight or fight response. But it makes us less prone to physical violence, Byrne argued.

Byrne has cited scientific research which found that swearing at work is a bonding experience. Apparently teams who share vulgar words tend to work better together and be more productive than those who don't.

But she said she isn't trying to justify aggression. She wrote in the Guardian "In researching and writing about swearing I'm not attempting to justify rudeness and aggression. Not at all. I certainly wouldn't want profanities to become commonplace: swearing needs to maintain its emotional impact to be effective.''

So, I'll just keep the swearing to when I'm in the car.

This article appeared on Kidspot and has been republished here with permission.

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