It’s one of those parenting milestones, one you don’t forget (as much as you may try). The day your child utters his first curse word, everything stops.
WHAT did he say?
Where could he have picked that up?
What should I do about it?
How you choose to combat curse words may vary depending on your child’s age, but here are four different options that other parents have used to keep swear words out of their kids’ vocabulary.
Curse Reaction 1: Ignore It
Some children may curse because they’re trying to get a reaction out of you. Even young children who don’t know what the word mean may curse simply because it’s known to shock adults.
If you stay calm and ignore what the child has said, you take away the shock value of the curse word and render it ineffective. Not only that, the child may also end up forgetting the word entirely, especially since you’re not saying it either.
Curse Reaction 2: Offer Alternatives
If ignoring the curse word isn’t making it go away, it may be time to address the issue with the child.
The child may be cursing because he’s frustrated and is trying to express an emotion. In this case, you can explain that “I understand you’re upset, but the word you used bothers people.” Then offer more appropriate alternatives to the curse to allow the child to express himself without cursing. Mild things like “rats” and “fudge” are common, but you can use whatever word(s) you like. (One mom used “peanut butter.”)
Curse Reaction 3: Allow It In Isolation
Another method to handle cursing is to tell the child that the word they have just used is “bathroom talk.” In other words, it’s a word that may only be said in the bathroom.
Tell the child that if he wants to use that language, he has to go into the bathroom and shut the door while he gets it out of his system. When he is finished with this “bathroom talk,” he can come out. Be very matter-of-fact about it and simply tell the child that those words must stay in the bathroom because you don’t like to hear them.
Curse Reaction 4: Implement Consequences
Some children will need the added incentive of consequences in order to stop cursing. Remember to closely tie the consequence to the situation at hand.
For example, if the child curses while playing with his siblings, then he should be removed from the group and have to play alone for 15 minutes. If he curses during arts and crafts, his project should be taken away. If he curses during dinner time, he will not get dessert.
What do YOU do when a child curses? What methods have you found to be most effective?