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education.com asks:
Q:

Please help me find a way to get my 2 1/2 year old to stop using bad words.

"I have tried everything I can possibly think of to try, and my 2 1/2 year old still uses bad words. If I can't find a way for him to quit, he's going to get kicked out of daycare. I need help in a bad way please help!"

Asked by Melissa after reading the article, "Preschool Potty Mouths: What to Do About Bad Words":
http://www.education.com/magazine/article/presc...
In Topics: Preparing my child for preschool, Discipline and behavior challenges, Child care
> 60 days ago

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Expert

MomSOS
Nov 1, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

I agree with lravidlearner, who reminds that kids are copiers, especially little ones.

Do follow her counsel re not exposing you son to this language either on TV or in the house.  If there are older siblings, they will need to be brought into the equation. the parents will have to be very diligent with their language.  It is easy for "bad words" to slip out during frustration or stress.

Not giving undo attention is a good idea, but how about coupling that technique with its counterpoint. In other words, consider giving special attention (even 5 minutes can be effective) for using appropriate words.  I might change the "good/bad" idea to "appropriate/inappropriate."  Also, you can try talking about words that "work."  Words that work are those words that make everyone feel good and get positive attention for the child.  It is important that the inappropriate words not get the child what he wants. In other words, when your little one uses the bad words to get his way, do not give in. Suggest he use appropriate words, and when he does, do your best to fill the request when it is safe and reasonable to do so.

One other suggestion.  You might want to sit down and speak with the day care teacher.  It could be that your son is actually hearing these words there, however, I would refrain from pointing that out. Putting a 2 and a half yr. old out of day care for using bad words seems like a very strong reaction.  Perhaps you can ally with the day care director/teacher and enlist their assistance in a behavior "plan" for supporting your son's use of words that work.

Give it some time.  If you are consistent in supporting the words that work, keeping your son from hearing these words as much as possible, and finding a way to bring the daycare into alliance,there is every reason to believe that his language will improve.
Bette J. Freedson, LICSW, LCSW, CGP
Clinical Social Worker
JustAsk Expert
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Additional Answers (3)

lravidlearner
lravidlearner , Teacher, Parent writes:
It's going to be a real challenge for you to get him to stop using bad words.  Children use these words because they are copying what they hear from adults, other kids, the TV, and even music lyrics.

It would be great if you could wave a magic wand to stop everyone around your son from using bad words.  But that will not happen, since you are not in complete control of the people he is around 24 hours a day.  

So first, if you do swear, stop using those words yourself.  Next teach him a different way to say the words by modeling it.  With my students, I tell them to think of bad words as a sneeze.  When you sneeze the germs go everywhere and can make people around you sick.  When you say bad words, it sends bad thoughts to the people around you and makes them feel bad.

So if you feel a bad word coming out, bury your mouth in your arm, like you would to cover a sneeze.  Then whisper it into your arm.  If other people can hear you say it, then you aren't whispering softly enough or your mouth isn't covered enough.

Show him how to do it, then practice it.  Every time he says a bad word, remind him what to do.  Like covering sneezes, this takes time and lots of practice.  Praise him whenever he does it correctly.

Show this method to everyone who is around him, and remind them to use it whenever your son is in their presence.  Don't let your son hear adult TV shows or music lyrics with swearing.

Tell your son't teachers about the new "sneeze" method, so they can remind him to do it in daycare.

Good luck!
> 60 days ago

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helpdeskguy
helpdeskguy writes:
Best thing to do is ignore it...My 2 year old used to do the same thing...we gave her no attention eventually stopped. I think they do it for the shock value of their parents face :)
> 60 days ago

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dgraab
dgraab , Parent writes:
Hi Melissa,

In addition to the wonderful info and advice you received from others in JustAsk, here's a resource you may also find helpful as you prepare your son for preschool:

http://www.education.com/topic/preschool-readiness/

It includes a section of articles on "Managing Behavior" that you may particularly find helpful.

Good luck to you -- I hope you're able to quickly resolve the issue with your son's use of bad words.
> 60 days ago

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