Why do children swear?
Kids learn by mimicking. And swearing is no exception.
As a parent and a leading child development and education psychology specialist, University of the Sunshine Coast Associate Professor Dr Michael Nagel knows a thing or two about kids and those cringe-worthy moments.
"Clearly, the child has no idea," Dr Nagel says.
"As a parent we can get irate. The thing is, though, children learn by mimicking.
"So we are there saying 'Oh my gosh, did my child just say that? What will people think of me?'
"It's always in public and it is always cringeworthy.
"And, all too often it is delivered with an astoundingly good sense of context."
What to do when your toddler or preschooler swears
Dr Nagel says once the shock of the bombshell wears off, parents should stay calm and move away from the situation (taking the child with you, as tempting as it might be to disown them at that point in time!).
"The thing is, this is all said with the innocence of a child. They have no idea what they have just said or the seriousness or offence of it."
It's not just swearing, either, he says. Children are also very good at the inappropriate sharing of information.
A child who might not have seen someone of a different race or background, wearing a religious garment, who might have a disability, or is "different" to them or their parents and family in some way is quite likely to speak up and ask a question or make a statement we would otherwise deem as being insensitive or inappropriate.
The silver lining, Dr Nagel says, is the learning opportunity which comes from it.
"Parents need to turn the situation around and while it is still embarrassing or awkward, they can see it as a learning and teaching opportunity and a chance to have a meaningful conversation about what's appropriate and what's not.
"It's also a chance to broaden the child's greater understanding of people and the world around them, to acknowledge their differences and then make them feel like they are valued enough for mum and dad to sit down and speak with them about it."
As in everything with parenting, consistent and clear messages are key. Reminders about what's right and what's not are important for every child.
And, of course, it doesn't hurt to curb the language and before letting rip on a rant, or cursing loudly when you kick your toe, spare a thought for those young ears which might be listening and think for a moment what words you'd like coming from their mouths.