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Swearing, Cursing, and Profanity

At one time or another, you've probably heard your child swear and immediately covered her mouth and say "Oops, I'm sorry" to avoid punishment.

What you may not have experienced before is the daily use of swearing, cursing, and profanity as part of your child's way of communicating. Still, most parents realize that, even though their teen may keep the swearing under wraps at home, he probably lets the curse words fly whan he's with his friends. After all, for many teens, swearing is not only acceptable; it's "cool."

Cursing and Swearing Behavior

Although you may not tolerate "colorful" language in your house, it happens to be common among tweens and teens. The primary reason kids swear is because they believe everyone else is doing it. To discourage swearing, you'll need to remain calm and persistent.

Tips to discourage profanity:

  • Be consistent. Don't laugh when your child swears one day and then yell at them the next. Make sure your child is well aware that swearing or cursing is not tolerated under any circumstances.
  • Improve your own language. If you don't want your child to swear, you shouldn't be swearing. Children and teens pick up on almost everything you do whether you notice it or not.
  • Redefine what's "cool." Although your child may think swearing is the "new thing," it really isn't. Explain to them how swearing allows adults and other peers to pass judgment on them. Give examples on how their swearing could be a setback in the future.
  • Define consequences. Every time you hear your child swear, express your feelings. "I don't like when you use that language. If I hear it one more time you won't be going to Emily's house on Friday."
  • Discourage swearing from others. Make it clear to visitors and other family members that they need to watch their language. You can simply explain you don't want your child or teenager picking up on the habit.
  • Be aware of the music your child listens to. Songs in ITunes that are marked "explicit," contain language inappropriate for children. When kids listen to these songs over and over, they can become desensitized to the language.
  • Check out video games. Some games, while fun, contain very mature language. If a video game isn't rated "E" for everyone, consider taking it away until your child's inappropriate language improves.

Just like breaking any other habit, discouraging the use of swearing will take time and effort. Make sure you are consistent in applying the rules to everybody in the house. Your child will soon pick up on the fact that swearing is not something that is tolerated within the family environment.