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When Kids Curse: How to Curb a Swearing Habit

When Kids Curse: How to Curb a Swearing Habit

“WHAT did you just say?!” Whether they picked it up from friends or from your own stubbed-toe-inspired tirade, hearing your kids curse can be a shocking and troubling experience. Wondering how to respond? Put down the soap and try these 5 tips from Circle of Moms members for encouraging more respectful speech.

1. Set Boundaries

First, set clear boundaries about when (if ever) swearing is permissible. As Tara relayed: “I tell them, when you're with your friends, fine. But not around me, not around other adults, and not around little kids.”

Kerry K. agrees: “Tell him that the home is an unacceptable place to use it, as well as work places [where you need to] interact with others in a professional manner…Give him boundaries as to where it is acceptable and not acceptable to use those words.”


2. Play With Alternatives

Other moms suggest breaking a swearing habit by encouraging a child to substitute funny, tame words for offensive ones. As Wendy B. shared: “I asked them to come up with another word that's similar to the curse, like 'what the fabreesy' instead of 'what the ......!' LOL. They do get creative and it's not cursing.”

3. Model Proper Behavior

Be the example," Vicki L. advises. She's in good company--many Circle of Moms members warn that if you’re asking your children to speak respectfully, you have to lead by example and limit your own swearing. As Cassie C. contends, "We as their parents need to clean up our language so that we can set a good example for our children."

4. Take Away Privileges

Once ground rules are laid, set consequences for inappropriate language. “Take away privileges,” advises Marilyn M. in the Moms of Teenagers community. “Ground him/her, take away TV, send him/her to their room.” Bonnie G. agrees: “Take something away from them that will real annoy them...(like the internet).”

5. Feed the Curse Jar

Another commonly recommended way of setting up consequences is Autumn A.’s money-based approach: “Decide on (an) amount that each word is worth. That is what it will cost them every time they say it. And make sure that they know you will be keeping track. At our house all cuss words except the "F" word were 25 cents. The "F" word was $1.”

Angela W., whose three kids had to put a quarter in a jar every time they cursed, promises it'll work like a charm: "When they don't get an allowance (because it all went in there), maybe they will stop. My kids did."

Join The Conversation
DrewT1385385730 DrewT1385385730 3 years
I am 13 and my friends and I say "what the fruitcake" instead lol
kimberleypaine kimberleypaine 6 years
ignoring you toddler dont seem to work fo me she still dose it even tho i hev stoped reacting to it what can i do????
CoMMember13627097222614 CoMMember13627097222614 6 years
Swearing should not be acceptable at any time or place - even when not at home - it doesnt make you more of an adult like they think to use the curse words - disagreen with # 1 its telling you swearing is ok at someone elses place --teach from the start its not acceptable & a child will know the differece as it gets older ,if they choose to swear as an adult - you have at least taught the basics the best you know ,...
MarshaMais MarshaMais 6 years
The other option is to ignore it. I know is sounds shady, but kids get a kick out of getting a reaction out of us; it encourages them to do it more. But it is a double edged sword in that the child will take you ignoring their potty mouth will come across as you being ok with it or not caring, so they'll do it more anyways. It honestly depends on your child's personality. Mine? they know better..and they, particularly my oldest, will find alternative words on her own. I know i can't curb my language sometimes, so I at least tell my kids not to repeat me for the simple fact that they don't understand the context of what I'm saying, and that they could really hurt someone's feelings. They understand that. My oldest is also super genius smart and is catching on as to the context and meaning of some of these words...but she still doesn't say them. But when she is mad, she'll tell us she wants to say a potty word really bad, it's only around us, so we go ahead and ask her what that word is so she can get it out her system. Then we'll remind her why that's a really bad word for her to say right now and to remember not to say it again.
TanjaAlemany TanjaAlemany 6 years
what do you do if it is a toddler that picked up a bad word? I have been trying the "alternative word option" but it has not caught on...
GabyDeLo GabyDeLo 6 years
I like the curse jar idea, I was thinking to start this in my classroom and home, but of course it has to be fair in that even adults get fined for cursing.
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