Teaching Kids To Swear Might Be A Good Thing

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 
Image via Getty/KaseyAnne

Swearing can actually offer health benefits, scientist says

Many parents let a well-timed swear word or two slip from our lips on occasion (or frequently, but who’s counting). It happens. But honestly, there are many more opportunities to mess up our kids than swearing in front of them. And guess what — science agrees.

Dr. Emma Byrne, a scientist in the field of artificial intelligence and the author of Swearing is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language says that teaching students to swear can help them to understand language better, and has also linked swearing to – among other things – honesty, a more robust vocabulary, better credibility, and as all kids need, helping them process and handle anger, The Sunday Times reports.

The self-titled “Sweary Scientist” also told the UK’s Cheltenham Science Festival that “we try to keep strong language away from kids until they know how to use it effectively but I strongly argue that we should revise this attitude.”

OK gurl, we’re listening…

In her book, Byrne also says swearing has been shown to lower the effects of physical pain, reduce anxiety, help trauma victims recover language, and promotes “human cooperation” in kids.

While I know little about the science behind all of it but I, for one, feel so much better releasing a big old “Go fuck yourselffffffffff,” into the abyss that is typically my car when I’m alone. So why wouldn’t our kids benefit from those same feelings in a safe environment?

Mind you, I grew up with a father I heard say “damn” once in my 44 years only because he dropped a glass vase on his toe. He constantly reminded me swearing is what “non-intelligent people say when they can’t think of anything clever.” Needless to say, I haven’t adopted the same relationship to swearing with my kids and it turns out, I may be on to something.

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

The scientist and swearing professional also references one particularly interesting study which found that swearing when a person experiences pain (like sticking their hand in ice cold water) increases their tolerance to the pain source by 50 percent compared to someone shouting a neutral word, WIRED reports.

Obviously, parents and teachers don’t want to be dropping an F-bomb every other sentence, but teaching our kids that not only is it ok to swear in certain situations, but that it can be good for our collective mental health may be a good thing. According to science, that is.

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