NEW YORK - Curse words. We use them all the time - whether we're angry, sad - maybe even when we get cut off by a car and most of us don't even realize it. But there is science behind swearing and there are ways to get those dirty words out of our vocabulary.
"We've recorded over 10,000 people swearing in public," said Dr. Timothy Jay, psychologist and author of 'Why We Curse.' "People swear to express their emotions. Part of that is venting - getting out anger, frustrations, surprise and happiness. And part of that is to convey those feelings to other people."
Dr. Jay says it's difficult for people to swear less because it's the most physical and expressive form of speech.
"You're asking a deeper question like 'Why do we have emotions? Why don't we curb our emotions? If we could do that we wouldn't need psychiatry. Like 'Oh, don't be depressed. Don't be sad. Don't be anxious.' So it's built into us," said Dr. Jay.
City-dwellers are more likely to use profanity.
"Any place where there's a lot of people, anonymity. Where there's a fast pace of life, where there's more stress. That's the breeding ground - the garden for swearing."
While it’s not an addiction, Dr. Jay recommends replacing curses with euphemisms like darn, shoot, and shucks. And when it comes to parenting with a kid who has a potty mouth, Dr. Jay says to play it cool.
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"The best thing to do is not to overreact. Because when the kids are pushing your buttons, you've taught them that this is a powerful word. Instead, you're giving them ammunition to save for later. So the best thing to do with your kids is be a psychologist - ask them how they're feeling and if they can think of another word."
And that's what it comes down to - no matter how old you are --- your feeling.
"It’s that conscious awareness of your emotional state, and getting a hold of "Why am I so frustrated? Why am I so angry? and stop that first. Reign in those emotions first, and then the language will follow."