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Swearing can be beneficial for children and is a sign of intelligence

Scots parents shouldn’t be mortified when their child swears at home or in public, according to one language expert.

Michael Adams, a Provost Professor of English at Indiana University, suggests that a tyke letting out the odd ‘bad word’ can actually be beneficial.

Parents and guardians should not tell children off if they swear.

However Prof. Adams does stress that expletives should not be encouraged, the Irish Mirror reports.

He claims that as children grown and develop emotional responses to the world, there are ‘benefits for everybody’ through swearing now and again.

Prof. Adams told Newstalk Belfast: “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.

Swearing can establish intimacy with friends and relieve stress, the expert said

“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.

“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.”

Mr Adams said we have swear words in our vocabulary for a number of reasons, some of them being for emphasis or stress relief.

“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,” he added.

“I think swearing can sometimes be very articulate, it’s not a question of anything goes. . . . the context is going to guide whether it’s a good time to swear.

“That’s one of the difficult things about learning how to use language well anyway – it’s something adolescents need to experiment with, all kinds of things come into play as they figure out how to make the best social use of language.

“Inevitably, they’re going to make mistakes, with younger kids, maybe it’s not the time to start swearing for emphasis.”

He continued: “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.

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“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.'”

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