One of the interesting things about fostering is that some of the kids who come to us have, shall we say, “spicy” vocabularies. They know and use words that our kids don’t know and use. They know and use words that we don’t use. They know and use words that 4 year olds shouldn’t know or use.
So how do you get a 4 year old to not go what he knows?
- Give him an acceptable alternative – We have had a good amount of success with this strategy. I’ll address three words specifically. Our foster son now thinks that the “B” word is “Butt”, the “F” word is “Fart” and “S” word is “Stupid”. We rejoice because all three are major victories because he now thinks these are bad words instead of what they used to mean to him.
- Give him permission to use that alternative – I get that this is a potential point of contention but bear with me. I was driving in the car with J one day and he asked me “can I say a bad word?” I said sure and he muttered “fart” under his breath, giggled at himself and, this is important, he moved on. All of the kids know that they can ask permission to say a bad word. Sometimes we say yes but mostly we say no. Funny thing is that the kids don’t use those “bad” words or call each other “bad” names because they know they can get permission to use them in front of mom and dad.
I am not a moral relativist and don’t think that choosing the lesser of two evils is the way to go through life. I do think that sometimes we assign evil status to things that are not evil. Is it really the worst thing in the world when a kid calls something stupid? We used to think so but fostering has been an education for us and helped put things in perspective.