Child Swearing What to do

At a recent bbq, a mum who 5 mins earlier had been complaining about her 11 year old’s language, suddenly turned to her son and yelled, “Stop that you idiot!”

“Shut up!” he responded.

Children swear.  They will do it at some point in their lives and it’s unrealistic to expect them never, ever to do so.

I remember the first time my daughter, then 5, used a not so nice word.  I turned to her and said, “Erm, we don’t use that kind of language in this house.”  She looked at me in all innocence and asked, “Is it ok if I say it outside?”


Why do children swear and what can you do about it?

There’re several reasons:

It might be that they:

  • want to experiment with words they hear other people use and they know is wrong
  • wish to show that they are tough or “grown up.”
  • hear it so often in the home that it becomes part of their vocabulary too because they want to be like their parents

Child Swearing What to do

  • _swear_word_xlargeThe most obvious is to set a good example.  So if you find that you swear in front of your children and you don’t want them to start or continue doing the same, then you will need to stop it too.  If you have been doing it and they are now following your example, just acknowledge it with them and say something along the lines of, “I know I have been swearing a lot and I realise that you are starting to do the same.  It’s not what I want for you so I’m going to stop and maybe we can do that together.”
  • Use planned ignoring.  The first time your child swears, ignore it.  It might be that they are looking for a reaction from you.  Continue with what you are doing.  If you find this hard to do, you could simply state that that is not something you would like to hear them repeat again.

If the swearing keeps happening though then you will need to think about doing the following:

  • Agree with your partner how to deal with any swearing that occurs.  This means that you will have consistency and predictability in your dealing with the situation and you child will be aware of that.
  • Talk with your child about it but at a time when you’re all calm.  Your child might not know exactly what type of words you consider swearing so you might need to be more specific.
  • Talk about the consequences, this goes with no. 1 but only this time you will share what the consequences will be with your child and remember to stick to what you have discussed and carry out the consequences when your child swears – consistency and predictability.

If, like some of my clients, your child has been swearing for a while and his/her swearing is accompanied by angry outbursts and yelling, then there will be a little more work to be done.

In this case it’s very likely that there’s more happening than just the swearing and anger and this is where you need to start.  His or her language might not be that important at this stage, but dealing with what is causing them to behave in such a manner.

If you’re finding it challenging to deal with – let me know 07850 85 60 66


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