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Swearing and Foul Language in Young Children

By Medically reviewed by Dr. Duyen Le.

Why do kids swear?

Like adults, kids use bad words to express their frustration. Besides, it may be that they have just enriched their vocabulary and want to share those words with family members. However, no matter what the purpose is, you need to help your kids understand that swear words are not acceptable in all situations.

What should parents do with swearing and potty talk?

Mind your saying

There are times when parents softly whisper that sort of words while helping the kids with wiping out in the toilet. Those are bad models. The kids may mimic your saying then reapply it on other occasions.

Keep a serious face

Kids saying swear words may be funny that we can’t help but giggle. However, try to wear a serious face since your chuckle may make the kid believe that bad words are a source of entertainment and no wonder, he will do it again.

Offer some alternatives

When your kid is experimenting new words, give him some kind and exciting suggestions. For example,  snoopynose for poopynose. If he uses bad words to express his anger or frustration, tell him to say out loud “I’m mad” or “I’m frustrated” instead of swearing. You can also invent some alternative words for him “Oh, shoes!”, for instance.

Set some rules

First of all, don’t be mad at your kid when you catch them swearing. If you overreact, your kid may mistake that bad words help him to catch your attention effectively.

If the word he uses is a made-up one (“penis-brain”), tell him that this thing does not exist and you have no idea what he’s just said. You don’t need to give an absolute explanation, just emphasize that those words are unkind and unacceptable. Stress that under no circumstances should swearing be applied.

If your child keeps swearing despite your warnings, punishment may be needed. With a calm voice and serious face, tell your kid that “ You have just crossed the line. It’s time you got a time-out”. Make sure you are consistent enough so your child won’t take it easy.

What else to remember?

Your kid may use swear words because he desires something. Do not satisfy his wish. If you give him what he uses swearing to ask for, he may believe that swearing is helpful.

Encourage your kid to put on others’ shoes. Ask him how he would feel someone called him a “farthead,” for instance. Let the kid understand that those swear words can indeed hurt others’ feelings hard. The kids, at this age, are on their way to develop empathy. They may not be aware of what is kind and unkind. Thus, your reminder plays such an important role.


You might also want to read:

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources
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Track your Child's Growth Stay up to date with your child's growth and development through content
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Track your Child's Growth Stay up to date with your child's growth and development through content
delivered weekly to your email
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Your child: [num] months old We’re excited to guide you on your parenting journey. Your first email will arrive shortly. We need to confirm your email address. To complete the subscription process, please click the link in the email we just sent you.
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Track your Child's Growth Stay up to date with your child's growth and development through content delivered weekly to your email
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