You know you’ve done it. Let a language bomb slip and then look to your innocent child, praying they didn’t hear your adult-rated slip up.
But science is swooping in to carry away that damn guilt away on profanity-laden wings by letting us know that teaching your kids to swear is actually a good thing.
Can I get a hell yeah??
Now before we get too carried away on those comforting clouds of cuss words, researchers do have a few ground rules, and good reason for their findings!
Dr. Emma Byrne—neuroscientist and author—says this:
“We’re often told that swearing is outrageous or even offensive, that it’s a sign of a stunted vocabulary or a limited intellect. Dictionaries have traditionally omitted it and parents forbid it. But the latest research by neuroscientists, psychologists, sociologists, and others has revealed that swear words, curses, and oaths, when used judiciously, can have surprising benefits.”
For instance, in the video below, Dr. Byrne describes a study which discovered that a person can endure pain for about 50% longer if allowed to swear during it. (This inspires me with a few choice words for the midwife who told me it wasn’t going to do me any good while I was in labor for 12 hours...) Byrne also says that swearing “is emotive. It’s something that we use to cause an emotion in another person or to express a really deep emotion in ourselves.” And other scientists have actually proven that swear substitutes simply don’t have the same effect as the actual swears.
So those benefits we’re handing over to our kids? Catharsis. Meaningful emphasis. Social understanding. Pain relief. Yes, yes, yes, and holy hell yes.
Now, it’s not just about dropping f-bombs with raging superfluity, and especially not abusively. But it is about helping children—as young as age 2, Byrne says—understand language and the emotional and even physical effects that it can have on ourselves and those around us.
It’s about understanding and using these words to their greatest degree of effectiveness from an early age. This way, kids can understand that when a person swears, it is likely because they are deeply hurting or hella excited—thus triggering a more empathetic response from our kids.
And that’s pretty damn cool.