Published On: Tue, Jun 22nd, 2021

Children swearing may be beneficial and a sign of intelligence, says language expert

Although parents are often mortified when they hear their child swear, the odd “bad word” may not be as harmful as we thought. One expert goes as far as saying it may even be good for children, encouraging parents and guardians to not tell them off if they curse. As reported by the Daily Record, Michael Adams, a Provost Professor of English at Indiana University, has claimed that there are several advantages to children swearing as they grow up and develop emotional responses to their surroundings.

Speaking to Newstalk Belfast, Professor Adams said: “There’s a little bit of risk in using it.

“If you use it with friends, or people at work, even though children aren’t doing that, in that risk you can establish some intimacy.

“You’re with people willing to take that risk or break that taboo with you, and you trust each other differently as a result of that.”

The professor went on to explain that this could be the reason for so many children and teenagers testing the waters with this type of language.

He added: ”I think that explains a lot of reasons why children and teens experiment with strong language.

“The second thing is it does relieve stress, there’s good scientific reason to believe that now. That can be a reasonably healthy thing for them to do, as long as they learn where and when to swear.”

Professor Adams noted that curse words exist for a number of reasons, most notably emphasis and stress relief.

He said: “Swearing is positively correlated with intelligence, you’re more likely to swear more the more intelligent you are, which sounds counter-intuitive, but when you think about it, people who are really intelligent are always negotiating their way through difficult conversational situations.

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He added: “With my wife and I, we say to our children, ‘Oh, don’t say that in school’, because we know they’ll get into trouble in school.

“But my rule for anybody’s language is people speak the way they do for a reason, and kids are people too, and they’re using profanity and trying to understand when to use it well because they feel some need to do that.

“I think sometimes a little less reaction and a little more conversation would be a better way of dealing with swearing, than just a swift ‘it’s always wrong’ answer.’”

Additional reporting by Marita Moloney and Kathleen Speirs.

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