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Young girl yelling

How to Stop a Child from Using Bad Language

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Just because you and your spouse have been careful to never utter any bad words in your home doesn’t mean your child isn’t exposed to bad language. Children learn bad words in a number of different ways, whether it is overhearing the TV, or hearing people argue in the grocery store, park or elsewhere. Of course, many children also hear their parents or siblings use bad words, and it’s only natural to experiment with those same words. Try taking these steps to stop your child from using bad language.

Don’t Overreact

Young children enjoy getting a reaction from their parents and siblings, so panicking when you hear a curse word will almost guarantee that your child will want to use the word over and over again to witness the same reaction. Remember that words lose their power when we do not react to them. Instead of being shocked or upset, remain calm and simply begin a conversation with your child about the word or words they used. Ask them where they heard the words and if they understand that there are some bad words that we don’t use in our family. Make it clear that it doesn’t matter what words other children use with their family members.

Turn the Situation Around

Having a “potty mouth” is most common for 4-year-old and 5-year-old children that are simply repeating new things they have heard, according to child experts. Instead of simply banning the word, explain to your child that some words can hurt people’s feelings and find a substitute word for your child to use. Of course, there is no proper synonym for some curse words. If your child uses these words, explain that the word is only intended to shock and hurt someone’s feelings. Tell your child that you don’t use that word because it can only make people sad and upset, and that you know your child is mature enough not use the word either.

Stay Away from the Soap

Child psychologists and other experts agree that the old practice of putting soap in a child’s mouth to discourage cursing or other problematic behavior can only lead to more trouble down the road. While some parents see washing a child’s mouth with soap as discipline, experts say it is cruelty, and in some places in the country, parents have been arrested for the practice. The child only learns that parents have the power to be cruel, and continued episodes are likely to lead to resentment and anger.

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