Swearing help....

Andrea Danielle

New Member
What have people found to be the best way to deal with difficult child's swearing? For the longest time mine just said some pretty basic bad words like stupid, idiot etc... A few minutes ago, I hauled him off to his room because he was being really mean to me and calling me an idiot and that he hates me (basically, because I wouldn't give me ice cream before dinner) and when I put him into his room I was horrified to hear him yell over and over at me "stupid as***** !!!! It was terrible. I tried to not respond but I went off and cried. Now he has a new bad word which he will use whenever he is mad at me. What works best in this situation??!!! I know he is just wanting to shock me. Last weekend, he announced that when he grows up he plans to get tattoos all over his body, drive a motorcycle and smoke - he is really just wanting a reaction!



New Member
I just wanted you to know that I have the same thing going on. I haven't heard a word like that yet but...there's still time. It's hard not to take it personally but try. Hang in there.


Well-Known Member
We haven't had a swearing problem, but Duckie has been very rude & taunting to me in the past. I finally told her that I simply will not allow my child to talk to me that way and send her to her room. We leave wherever we are and come home if we are out. Then she goes to her room. We did have a comparatively minor problem with inappropriate "potty talk". Potty talk belongs in the bathroom and that's where she's welcome to talk about the potty et al, nowhere else.
Mine hasn't picked up swear words yet, but when he uses words I don't like, I tell him we don't talk like that and does he want to go to his room? He'll say no and I'll say, Then don't talk to me like that. If he repeats it again, I say, You don't talk to me like that, and put him in his room without an option to avoid it. That's what I'd do for a vulgar word.

We had the potty mouth for a while. On a couple of occasions, it came up when I was doing something with some sort of sweet treat. I'd point out that I wasn't putting something sweet into a mouth that wasn't sweet and he'd get the point. I don't believe in bribing with food, but sometimes, it's leverage.

by the way -- I tried putting a little liquid soap on my finger and getting his tongue with it, but he actually liked it. This was very annoying to me. I've heard the anti-bacterials taste nastier so this would work better for me, but I'm not comfortable putting that sort of stuff in his mouth. It wasn't easy to get it into his mouth; sort of like that quote about wrestling with a pig. I don't recommend this route.

Yes, the cub is looking for a reaction, so you can't give him much. [Another reason the soap thing is bad -- too much attention.] When difficult child comes up with some random thing he is going to do in the future, I usually say, That's an unworthy ambition, in a neutral voice. I doubt he knows what it means, but he does get the idea I think that's a dumb choice.

Hang in there, lady!


Active Member
This kind of behavior is the stuff that both angers and horrifies us as parents. Most of our kids will do it along the way and they don't all respond to the same methods. What worked for someone who answered you (sorry can't remember who) in declaring it unacceptable and sending the young child off to the room didn't work for us at all and in fact often resulted in an escalation.

First off, if you have any way of cutting your child off of offensive language that he might be hearing, do that. TV, videos, computer games, use in homes by adults or older siblings--it's inevitable they will hear it at school but it's important to set the tone that it's not something that is used in the home. We don't use that language and have always been very careful about exposure since we know difficult child's magnet attraction to negative junk but he eventually found his way to it one way or another so I'm not saying this to accuse you, just advise.

Second, trial some different methods of handling it. I found most of the methods that involved outrage or consequences to have very little positive impact at all and that a simple statement would usually be best. "We don't use that language here." and simply turn and walk away and go about my business was more effective than sending him off to his room. In the case of the tattoo statment I would do something like calmly saying "You'll look interesting with tatoos all over. I've heard the needles they use to put on the tatoo really hurt so let me know when you do it and I'll bring you over some ice packs." Basically I looked for something that took the wind out of his sails.

There have been times when I've used a consequence but I usually reserved those for times when he targeted siblings. I've had mixed success.

Also, I should mention that my husband is more easily angered by these disrespectful outbursts towards him as an adult and is quicker to punish (usually grab him, scold, and send to the room). He's fairly mild mannered but this burns him faster than anything. The end result of our two different treatments is that difficult child rarely does it to me anymore but still will do it pretty often to my husband when they but heads.

Good luck--I know how frustrating it is. Once when difficult child was extremely unstable due to anxiety we made the decision (Explosive Child Style) to ignore all offensive verbal comments out of him because we recognized each time we did he was upping his level of bad behavior, meltdowns, anger, etc. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done ignoring the verbal assault.

We've had huge improvement but yesterday my difficult child (age 10 and doing beautifully) went off on me when I was disciplining his sister. He wasn't *too* evil with his words but it still isn't fun. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/5*16-smiley02.gif I got the three of us as far apart as possible and it diffused quickly.


New Member
So far we have the "regular" bad words like you but I know it is only a matter of time before some more creative ones surface. I also feel it is for the shock value for what it's worth. Still doesn't feel well when you get called stupid by a 4 year old. Here we use timeout, he hates it, lol. Can't do the send to the room thing because he's afraid of being in a room by himself. Hope we grow out of that soon.

Last weekend, he announced that when he grows up he plans to get tattoos all over his body, drive a motorcycle and smoke - he is really just wanting a reaction!

[/ QUOTE ]
:rofl: Sorry, just had to laugh at that. These kids!

SRL makes an excellent point here: [ QUOTE ]
We don't use that language and have always been very careful about exposure since we know difficult child's magnet attraction to negative junk but he eventually found his way to it one way or another ...

[/ QUOTE ] If there is even one line in a movie that I don't want him to say, like the hyenas saying "We're gonna kill ya!" in Lion King, that is the one line he will quote for months. A little pal at daycare has a word (not swear word so far) that I don't like, that's what he'll say. I don't even have to respond -- he's seen someone else do it so he knows he has a live one, so to speak.

The first time I hear something I don't like, I will ask in a very neutral voice, Where did you learn that? He'll usually tell me. And then I'll say, Well, xx may use words like that, but we don't in this house. It's not a nice word. If the same child is named repeatedly, I'll sometimes say, Well, I don't know about your playing so much with xxx; he does a lot of things we don't do in this house. Something similar with movies. He lost Lion King for a while for the hyena line. When he'd ask to watch it, I'd say, No, you start to talk like the hyenas and the hyenas are the bad guys. Let's wait a while. And after about a month, I'll let him watch it again but say, I don't want you talking like the hyenas or I'll have to put the movie away again. That actually works with the movies. He'll even tell me he can't watch a particular movie and why.

In my response earlier, I had forgotten about this (sorry, was very tired), and it's actually a key point in how I handle the "new" stuff he brings home. My philosophy is that he gets a free pass the first time just in case he really doesn't know that's not acceptable in our house. Of course he knows 99% of the time, but it's a way for him to get the point without losing face.

Losing face is very important to my cub. He always needs a way to back down without looking like he is. So, asking where he learned something is a way for him to get the point without any punishment etc. And when I know he knows, the We don't say that; do you want to go to your room? Gives him a chance to say no and avoid any punishment. It's when the behavior is repeated a couple of times that he gets put in this room. At that point, he's beyond caring about saving face, he's just angry and doing it deiberately, so off he goes.

Now, a new word screamed from the inside the room is a challenge. It's not like you're going to be having a rational discussion about "where did you learn this" from him. And he knows it's bad because that's what he's choosing to scream in there. I'd probably wait until he was calmed down and then ask where he learned it.

I have to admit, I say a few things I shouldn't every now and then (NOT directed at the cubs). The sharp-eared easy child will go, "Oooooooo, I heard that!" or "You shouldn't SAY that!". Even if she doesn't, I will immediately apologize and say I shouldn't have said that, it's vulgar, and point out to easy child that once you have started to use bad words, it's very hard to stop and that's why I don't want her to start. This works on her but I doubt it will on difficult child, but fortunately, he hasn't heard me say any of those things. Yet.

Andrea Danielle

New Member
Thanks for all of the great advice everyone!
I have to agree with SRL, that sending him to his room for saying bad things seems to backfire on me because while he is in his room he ends up just saying every bad word he knows really loud, while bashing in his door.
It is so true about movies having a big influence over what they say. My difficult child picks up on every rude phrase that shows attitude from the tv shows/movies that he sees. We really have banned a lot of movies around here. but, it is hard since we have a 9 year old who is allowed to see more shows. Just yesterday, easy child put in an Austin Powers movie which he knows difficult child is not allowed to see, my parents were babysitting and they didn't realize what was happening until difficult child had seen a fair bit of it. There are a lot of bad words in Austin Powers!!!
For the record husband and I don't swear at all but it seems to be everywhere and hard to avoid. Apparently this latest word he learned, he got from a boy at his school who has Aspergers. And, when difficult child learns a bad word, he doesn't soon forget it! He is also fascinated with bathroom humour and loves talking about his :censored2:. It is all so exhausting. I have received some great advice for all of you, thank you!



Active Member
We've taken a really hard line approach on what's on the screen and even what's in the house for all of our kids and it's helped difficult child a lot. My older son wasn't allowed movies with stronger language/violence in them until he had proven himself trustworthy in that 1) he wouldn't repeat what he'd seen or heard in front of difficult child and 2) he wouldn't even mention that he'd seen the film. This meant around age late 10/11 in his case and our solution then was that he would get to stay up after difficult child had gone to bed on weekends to watch or we'd sneak him off to see something at the theater without difficult child knowing about it.

I was have been *very* hard core about movie ratings and it's taken standing firm on my part because I catch a lot of flak for it ("But everyone in my class has seen ______!"). difficult child at age ten just the first PG-13 (Revenge of the Sith which he'd been dying to see) but we agreed with him in advance that we would be censoring out several parts of the movie and he was ok with that since he knew it was the only way we'd let him see it. We didn't let him see any of the Star Wars movies until his aggression had settled down and he was almost nearly in control.

One other thing I will mention is that we have a DVD player that has a TV Guardian built in which filters out swear words, potty language, disrespectful remarks, etc. I think it's a Sanyo and it's been wonderful because it's allowed us to watch a lot of PG stuff that previously I wouldn't have ok'd.


Active Member
I forgot to mention that I use the following sites to help determine if films are appropriate for our family. Screenit.com is very thorough and lists virtually every problem spot you could think of. When difficult child was younger and more apt to spit out any nasty thing he picked up my husband or I would sometimes preview films. It takes more time this way but helped a lot.



New Member
I went through this with 2 of my 3 children - Dylan and easy child (yep, really - my easy child). They were both around the age of your difficult child, too, although Dylan's lasted a little longer.

You've already been given alot of good advice. We don't have cable TV here at all - none of it, not even basic channels. All television watched is via movies, movies that WE choose, and must be rated G, PG or MAYBE PG-13 if I watch it first.

I'll tell you, we used money and jars to fix this problem with my kids. I know I hear from 99.999% of the people here that rewards and charts and everything that worked for me doesn't work for their kids, but well, can't hurt to try.

I took a small mason jar and put each of the boy's names on one. For every hour they did NOT curse, a dime went in. For each time they DID curse, a dime came out. Whatever was left on Friday was turned in for dollars and they were taken to the store, or Wal Mart, or did whatever they wanted to do with it. A couple of bucks to a 4 year old kid is pretty darn cool.

It worked for us. My kids love rewards, though. I will tell ya, the first time they saw the money coming out, that little light bulb went off. You could see the "darn, she took that outta there!" look in their face LOL!

Just another thought.



Active Member
Good idea, Janna! We don't have cable either and it makes my life easier. I do spend extra time each week looking for videos to rent but it gives me a lot more control.

My difficult child works well for money as an immediate reward as well. I like to use a 7 day pill container that is big enough for quarters and then he can just take them out. I would usually just set it up at the scene of the crime :wink: ie near the laundry basket in his room if I was after laundry pick up.

Andrea Danielle

New Member
SRL, I absolutely love the http://www.pluggedinonline.com/
site, I have been vigilant about checking every movie or TV show want to watch to see what the content really is.

As for the swear words, I don't feel like I making any progress. I am trying to so hard to ignore it and just tell me that we don't use these words. The problem is especially bad in the car, there isn't much I can do. I find that he is escalating to the stupid ***hole word so fast these days. So, as soon as I don't give him something he is pulling out his big bad word to get a reaction. I have been re-reading everyone's great suggestions and will try a new tactic.

Oh, here is another thing he did recently. He was going to summer camp this week - his first one ever. Apparently he has a crush on a teenage teacher there, one day he was cuddling up to her and said "I want to live in your bagina". OK, so he knows nothing at all about how babies are made, and hasn't seen anything like this on TV. I think he was just trying to get a reaction. He seems to like saying the word "bagina", and no, I am not going to correct his pronounciation. It always gets a reaction from people so he tries to find any opportunity he has to say it.
Brother, it never ends.

Have a nice weekend everyone,
Hey, lady! Sorry to hear your cub's swearing problem has continued. Once a person starts using bad words to relieve anger, it is very hard to stop. I'd guess your cub isn't going to stop with the bad words even if he doesn't get a reaction from you personally at this point. There are some interesting studies on how the brain processes swear words. Here's a layman's link:


I like Janna's jar idea for positive reinforcement but haven't tried it myself on my difficult child. It's hard to find a way to continually give positive reinforcement for the absence of a behavior because you hate to bring it up and remind them of it! So the hourly jar seems like a good idea. Sometimes I will use books to help reinforce a point. I recently got one called "Words Are Not For Hurting" because I didn't like what he was saying to people when he didn't get his way. He's not as verbal as your cub, so he hasn't figured out swear words. He's more on the lines of "You're mean! You stink!" and then occasionally off onto the potty words, but he gets time outs for those so he typically won't say them. Much. I believe that the Lamictal has helped get his emotions down to a level where he can handle them, making it much easier for us to help him deal with them appropriately. Otherwise, I'm sure I'd be hearing "poo poo head" a lot again ... he doesn't know the other words yet :wink:

Good luck, lady. Positive reinforcement (like the jar) coupled with neutral correction seems to work pretty well for many things.


New Member
We have a positive reinforcement chart as well. Not only for potty talk but for everything. We haven't had much of a problem with swear words beyond potty talk yet (although he is a great reader and some wonderful child wrote the F-WORD on the seat of the bus. He came home wanting to know what F*** meant. He has never said it again).

He does really well when he is earning stickers. When the chart is full (20 stickers) he gets a dollar. Our problem is - we can not take stickers off for bad behavior. This sends him into a terrible temper tantrum. I find it easier to just use stickers for positive behavior and keep the sticker chart out of mis-behaviors.

He still gets sent to time out for mis-behaving, but is not reminded 2 hours later of it when he looks at the sticker chart, only to go into a fit again if a sticker is missing. He has pointed out that he works hard for the stickers and does not want me taking them away. In a way, he is right.


(the future) MRS. GERE
We used 2 methods with good success.

One was similar to what Janna described. My ex also had a problem with swearing. Every week I got 2 rolls of quarters ($10.00 each). I got 2 coffee mugs and put a roll of quarters in each mug. One mug was for exdh and the other was for Rob. For every "bad" word (could be swearing or other off limit words, ie "Idiot") one quarter was removed. At the end of the week Rob got to spend what he had left wherever he wanted....Toys R Us or Dairy Queen, etc. Exdh NEVER had any money left over and Rob enjoyed rubbing that in as well.

A few years later when quarters didn't do the trick anymore we just sent Rob to his room. He had permission to swear to his heart's content there. He could yell the words out as loudly as he wanted. If we didn't hear him, we'd holler up to be louder. Obviously the shock value was gone and the novelty was over for him so he stopped. He had permission to come back downstairs once the bad language was over. No fun if it isn't making Mom and Dad nuts so he usually didn't stay up there for very long.

You son is so young. Find what motivates him and use it. The lesson will be learned better through positive reinforcement,- who cares if it's a bribe if it works?



Roll With It
We have taken the stance that it "wears Mommy and Daddy out" to hear swear words. So the kiddo who used the word gets to do a chore in the bathroom for us when he has calmed down. We stay calm, very low emotion, and use the line, "Potty mouth gets Potty Chores" when griped at about the chore. He has to scrub the tub, or the bathroom floor, or clean around the litter box. None of these take me 5 mins, but depending on how often it has happened in the week, can occupy a child for up to an hour.

I do recommend using non-toxic cleaner for this. Baking soda works well on tubs, and when mixed with water and a little dish soap is fine on a floor. Just be sure to rinse.

It seems to work for us, as long as we stay calm. If we get upset the whole deal is shot.


Andrea Danielle

New Member
I heard some great advice from all of you on the swearing topic and we were making some progress and then...

I hired a nanny to come in to watch the boys as there is no camp this week. I booked this through my work as it is a benefit, they offer 80 hours of this sort of emergency care. Anyway, Monday seemed to be fine with the caregiver. I asked my 9 year old easy child and he thought she was pretty nice. Then Tuesday night, he told me that he heard her swearing on the phone, saying f**** b****, that sort of thing and she was doing it right in front of very impressionable difficult child. So, yesterday morning I called the caregiver and explained how careful she needs to be about language around the kids. She apologized and agreed to be careful.
Last night.... I get home and easy child said "you have to fire the babysitter". Apparently, she screamed out the F word at some point and then difficult child said it for the rest of the afternoon. She also said a lot of other swear words. She also talked on the phone all day and in one conversation in front of the kids she was complaining that it wasn't worth the $100 a day she was making and she couldn't wait until Friday until it was over.

I called the agency to complain last night and to cancel her. They are trying to find a replacement for Friday but they could not find anyone for today. Therefore, I am working from home today and feeling very frustrated... After, all of our hard work!!
Wow. You do expect some level of professionalism in the world, don't you? You could try telling the cubs that the person got fired and that's like a really long time-out. It will take a while for that nasty word to lose its novelty. My difficult child seem to experiment with words and gestures much longer than easy child ever did. Someone showed him how to flip someone the bird and it took a good four months for us to stop seeing it periodically.

My sympathy to you ... and good luck!
Wow. You do expect some level of professionalism in the world, don't you? You could try telling the cubs that the person got fired and that's like a really long time-out. It will take a while for that nasty word to lose its novelty. My difficult child experiments with words and gestures much longer than easy child ever did. Someone showed him how to flip someone the bird and it took a good four months for us to stop seeing it periodically.
My sympathy to you ... and good luck!