But understanding their anger and curving the language I grew up with are two completely different things. It is hard to curve a behavior that is so ingrained in you that you don’t notice when you are doing it. I find it even harder to refrain from swearing when I am angry. That is why we initiated a sweat jar in my house. Anytime my girls hear my say a swear word, they are able to put a rock in my jar. When the jar fills up, I have to take them out for a special (and expensive) excursion. I did this for a few reasons.
First, I made the reward for them to catch me swearing fun so that they were incented to catch me and they recognize that even I have problem behavior that needs correcting. I want them to know that no one is perfect and everyone has something that they can work to improve about themselves. The key is to improve 1% every day.
Second, I made the excursions expensive because I found that I tend to have a shorter fuse when I am stressed about money. So if I know swearing over something stupid like a glass of spilled milk is going to cost me big, I will be more aware of it myself and catch myself before it comes out of my mouth.
If you find yourself having difficulty changing a behavior within yourself that you want to change, the first thing to remember is that you should not give up. Dwelling on the problem can only increase the problem. After all, when you criticize yourself you create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Rather than say, “you’re driving me crazy.” to your children; try saying, “I can stay calm.” Then log your victories each time you follow through with the positive reinforcing statements. Celebrating each small victory will boost your confidence and your ability to stay the course.
Charles Dickens said, “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”