Tips for Curbing Your Child's Swearing
Hearing new things every day
Children use swear words for many different reasons. Young children may not even understand what a swear word means and are just repeating what they heard someone else say, or the child may be swearing to get attention. Pre-teens and teens may also swear to get attention, or to gain peer acceptance because swearing is ‘cool’, to prove their independence, or to mimic a ‘role-model’ on television or in a movie that swears. be in control, and denying what once was taboo all are part of the child's life at this stage. Be prepared, speak with your child, support your child and communicate clearly.
Cutting swears out of your child's vocabulary
- Understand the source. When your child swears, especially in the case of young children, calmly ask, “Why did you use that word?” or “Where did you hear that word?” If your child is looking for attention and you respond with shock or anger you may even encourage this behavior.
- Set an example at home. Pay attention to your own and your family’s use of swear words around your child. It will be difficult to explain to your child why she cannot swear if you and other family members are swearing. If your child’s swearing is a result of watching television or movies, or playing videogames in which the characters swear, think about limiting the amount of time your child’s spends on these activities
- Talk about swearing. When you hear your child swear for the first time, explain that swearing can be very offensive. If your child is swearing out of frustration or anger, acknowledge those feelings and talk about and model different ways he could express his emotions.
- Set rules and define consequences. Be clear with your child that swearing is not acceptable the first time it happens and explain what the consequences for this behavior will be in the future, such as a time out for younger children or a loss of a privilege like television or computer time for pre-teens or teens. When it happens again, be sure to follow through with those consequences.
Reprinted with the permission of the One Tough Job campaign. © Children's Trust Fund of Massachusetts 2007. All rights reserved.
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