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Handling Kids and Bad Language

Nipping Bad Language in the Bud

Potty talk is never acceptable. Dr. Fran Walfish — Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist, author of The Self-Aware Parent, and costar on WE tv's Sex Box — offers expert insight on handling bad language.

There are words that most parents don't want their children to use. They won't get your children invited on playdates or into the sorority. First off, as a parent, you want to make sure you and your spouse do not use bad language. You are the role model — you use it, and your child will copy you.

Also, it depends on the age of your child. Sometimes, 5- to 7-year-olds will use bad language if they hear other students use it. You need to educate your child and let them know that you understand they heard someone else say it, but you don't want them to because they are not friendly words. You need to keep it in terms of what will make them friends, because that is one of the most important things in their life at this stage — having friends. Friendly language = friends, unfriendly (i.e. bad words) = no friends.

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Keep in mind that kids will use these words as attention-seeking or for shock value. You can tell them, "You don't need to use those words, just let me know you want me to look at you."

Each time your child says a bad word, you need to correct it in the moment. Stop what you're doing, look at them, and say, "Remember we're working on not saying those words. Please fix it, so we can go on to the next activity." How do they fix it? Well, for example, if they say "f*ck you," you can say, "I hear that you are supermad at me — that's what you need to tell me instead of saying a mean, unfriendly word." You want to make sure to encourage their direct expression of anger but in a respectful way.

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