My son is very, very angry with me. He shouts at me and stomps his feet. When I don't react to that, he narrows his eyes, lowers his voice and says, "I hate you, Mommy."
I have his school to thank for that.
You see, my husband and I are very careful not to swear in front of our son. If we do let a bad word slip, we ignore it in the hopes that he will do the same. Even though we are careful, I am pretty sure that his little sponge-like mind has already absorbed some bad words through other people. But I'm not worried about it; I know if he uses them, he is just trying to get my attention. A recent paper in the American Journal of Psychology indicates that when children use "bad words" they are trying to express emotion.
Keeping children from saying a word gives it power. And my son loves having a little bit of power. (You should hear him boss around the cat.)
So, back to the school. You see, one of his teachers told the class that "we don't say 'hate' because it's a bad word." This is contrary to what my son was taught at home - that "hate" is the opposite of "love." Nothing more; nothing less.
So, when my son told me that he hated me, I only had one option and I took it. I crouched down to his level and said, "That's a shame that you feel that way. I just want you to know though, that I will always love you." And I gave him a kiss on the top of the head and walked away.
About 5 minutes later he followed me into the family room and gave me a hug and told me he was sorry. I took the power out of the word for him.
Now, if I could just figure out how to remove the power from the word, "poopyhead."
What "bad" words do you try to get your children to not say?