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How to stop children from using foul language


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#1 nestof3

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 05:26 PM

Okay, I realize the whole "foul language" thing is subjective. I mean, really, I would rather neither my children nor I ever said anything that wasn't perfectly pleasant and worthy of putting on the evening news. So, twit, git, jerk, buffoon, etc. would be just as bad as *****, *****, -- you get the point.

But, my boys have heard all sorts of words from all sorts of places (yes, even from their dad and me). Am I proud of this? No.

Both Aaron and Nathan realize that it is substandard, offensive, etc. and do not struggle with saying foul things (Well, Nathan says "git' and a few of the "milder" words), and I'm sure Aaron has said a few things when terrible angry, but it's not a common thing. Ben, on the other hand, hears something once and says it quite often. He'll even just say the first letter in order to get his point across thinking he's safe because he didn't actually say the word. He says it over the smallest irritations.

So, yes, he learned a couple of words from his parents, one from youtube (the worst in my opinion), and two from the kid next door.

How do I get him to stop? I made a pact with him months ago to not say the word he learned from me, and I haven't. I've explained that we need to aim to say what we really mean when we are angry, hurt, frustrated, etc. Nothing has helped including various restrictions.

Any ideas?

#2 craftyerin

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 05:35 PM

I actually read this little article recently, chuckled, and filed it away for future reference.

http://www.loveandlo...d_swearing.html

#3 HayesW

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 05:40 PM

Duct tape
So far, I haven't met a parenting dilemma it hasn't solved.

For all of you who are panicking, that was a joke.

#4 amo_mea_filiis.

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 05:42 PM

My little man has been on a cursing streak for a while. For us, I'm pretty sure ignoring it is going to cut it.

He likes the taste of soap, T/O means nothing, being able to "punish" me if I slipped, all had no effect. I also tried praising and rewarding him when he didn't curse where he "normally" would have, but this backfired and almost reminded him TO curse!

Because a lot of words are directed at my daughter, and I fear for her self-esteem, before total ignoring I'm going to make him a little incentive chart. He generally sleeps from 6pm to 6am, so I have 12 hours to worry about. The first chart will have 24 boxes. For every 30 minutes that he doesn't curse, he'll get a sticker. At x amount of stickers, he'll get a prize, and another for a full day with no cursing. After a week-ish I'll change it to 12 boxes, so every hour. The goal is to get to weekly prizes and eventually none. If we can get down to none, I'd be fine ignoring the occasional curse out of extreme frustration.

If after so many weeks I see NO progress, I'll be ignoring. And for the ignoring to work, I have to have multiple and frequent convos with dd about the ignoring, and making sure he doesn't hurt her in the long run.

It seems like I only post ds to dd negative, so a little positive- DD freaked out (I mean nearly fighting for her life, with 4 adults holding her freak out) while being pinned down to get the PPD test at the Dr. Well, 2 nurses had to removed DS because he was yelling at everyone and trying to beat everyone off of DD! The second the needle touched her, she stops and says "oh, that's not so bad". DS hugged DD when it was over and gave me the nastiest look ever! And to justify what seems really mean here is that I'm an EMT, so this simple test, yearly, is important for the 3 of us.

#5 kewb

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 06:34 PM

When my kids were little we simple stated that we do not use those words and then ignored it when the offender would use foul language.

Now that they are older, we talk about how language can affect people's perceptions of us and why in certain situations that matters. My 13 year old knows that I don't care if he talks trash with his friends but you don't speak that way with me.

#6 pqr

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 06:41 PM

Tell him that he will NOT not use those words again. If he does, employ whatever means you normally use in cases of disobedience.

If this does not work you have a bigger problem than a few words and perhaps need to re-examine how you deal with discipline.

#7 LibraryLover

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 07:06 PM

Which reminds of the time I was very ill and my dh was away. One of my sisters-in-law came to take my oldest, then 18 months, on a little outing to give him a break from a heaving, zombie mother. As they were leaviing, sil, with babe on one hip, the diaper bag on the other shoulder slipped and fell to the floor with a loud thump as she was opening the door. My darling first born said, clear as a bell, "Oh Shiit!". It's family lore now. ;)

Even I was shocked. lol

Of course, he is still the only child of mine who says swears at all. I have never even heard the word danm out of any of the others.

My dh never swears, so that was all me. Not that I am proud at all. Thankfully, my oldest can code-shift well.

Edited by LibraryLover, 25 May 2011 - 11:03 AM.


#8 nestof3

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 07:28 PM

Tell him that he will NOT not use those words again. If he does, employ whatever means you normally use in cases of disobedience.

If this does not work you have a bigger problem than a few words and perhaps need to re-examine how you deal with discipline.


Yes, I wish I could discipline for something once or a few times and have it stop.

I know the root of it all is anger b/c that is when he uses his language. Nathan only had to be told not to speak that way and he doesn't. We have three boys, and he has been by far the hardest.

#9 pqr

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 07:33 PM

Yes, I wish I could discipline for something once or a few times and have it stop.



Hang in there and stick to your guns.

In my case, if I need to I can ramp up the severity of punishment/loss of privileges. The point is that a child must know that he cannot win. Consistency is one of the keys, the other is finding a punishment that works.

#10 nestof3

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 07:47 PM

Thanks. We have always had struggles with his temper, level of frustration, ability to communicate his feelings, etc. He didn't talk (more than 8 words) until he was three, and I remember him rocking himself back and forth angrily, and I wondered if there was something psychologically wrong with him. He had really horrible episodes growing up where he would freak out about the littlest things -- the way things fit, smells, sounds, and so on. He has been exhausting. :tongue_smilie:

On the positive side, he is my cling-on, and at nine, he still comes to me (did so tonight) and asked if he could snuggle. He still carries his stuffed puppy around with him. Today, he said he realized today that he could look in the teacher's manual for the answers to math but didn't. I told him about a friend of my son who did that in high school, and he had to take remedial math courses to get him ready for college math. I talked about how that would only end up hurting him. He's very open and very appreciate about the smallest things.

I would say our toughest battles with him are centered on self-control. For many things, I have learned how to help him calm himself and help him refocus. The language thing is where I get stuck.



Hang in there and stick to your guns.

In my case, if I need to I can ramp up the severity of punishment/loss of privileges. The point is that a child must know that he cannot win. Consistency is one of the keys, the other is finding a punishment that works.



#11 BMW

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 08:10 PM

Well, recently we were having trouble with our boys speaking rudely to each other. I didn't really give them any warning, but I had my Bible open to Ephesians 4:29-5:2 and I waited for the first offender. As soon as one spoke rudely (they were putting each other down or being sarcastic/insulting), I called him to the center of the room and asked the others to gather around, that son had something to read to everyone. I had him read the passage out loud. Everyone got the message. I said, "All right then, anyone else who speaks rudely will also remind us what the scripture says."

Suddenly there were very, very few rude comments in the household.

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths..." It's an outstanding passage... even if you don't use it the way I did!:)

#12 fairfarmhand

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 09:01 PM

can you give him some alternative words?

My fil says "mud" when he is really aggravated.

#13 AndyJoy

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 10:56 PM

The threat of having to clean a toilet was an effective deterrent at my small private school.

#14 Peela

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 03:56 AM

I just work on it consistently.
But I also don't make too big a deal about it. Kids learn not to say these things in front of granma, and if I react, they learn not to say it in front of me. It can become a habit though- dh went through a stage last year of getting himself out of the habit of swearing, which he noticed had become quite bad.

You can have a family swear jar, and anyone who swears has to put a designated amount of money in the jar- that way you can all work on it together, which takes the focus off the kid who does it the worse, since you all do it a little. YOu can make it a game, and decide which words are ok.

My son, when he was little, wanted to swear so badly- he really had a temper. We allowed him the word "bumhead" and that satisfied him- he thought that must be a pretty bad swear word.

#15 rochellek

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 06:21 AM

I am soooo tired of my 3 year old saying "poopyhead." I can effectively ignore him (and not give him the "reward" of seeing me ignite), but it is his 6 year old sister that encourages him to keep saying it. He winds up modeling HER behavior. Lately I've been taking away her privileges when she models the undesirable behavior. It's working a bit. Time will tell. This too will pass...

#16 Where's Toto?

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 07:52 AM

My younger dd's favorite phrase now is "what the heck?". She is using it in the correct context. :tongue_smilie:

#17 54879525

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 07:57 AM

I have no advice, but perhaps a small bit of insight to share. I am not the least bit offended by foul language. It really doesn't ruffle my feathers. Once in a great while I swear. My kids don't use foul language. Once my son (4 at the time) caught wind of the F word and thought it was funny to walk around the house saying it repeatedly. Maybe he was trying to get a rise out of me. I didn't react and he didn't do it again.

#18 amo_mea_filiis.

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 08:05 AM

I have no advice, but perhaps a small bit of insight to share. I am not the least bit offended by foul language. It really doesn't ruffle my feathers. Once in a great while I swear. My kids don't use foul language. Once my son (4 at the time) caught wind of the F word and thought it was funny to walk around the house saying it repeatedly. Maybe he was trying to get a rise out of me. I didn't react and he didn't do it again.


While I currently do not like how my son makes use of this word, the first time he said it, I was partly thrilled. It was the first time he clearly said the /f/ sound (years of speech therapy)! I didn't let him see it, but I did walk away and smile.

#19 Katiebug_1976

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 08:09 AM

Dish soap works wonder here!

#20 eternalknot

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 04:22 PM

I married a grunt soldier with as foul a mouth as they come; he didn't always realize what he was saying, that's how ingrained it was into his speech. He's been a work in progress for years and years, and is almost a new man. Our kids learned quite the vocabulary under his tutellage!

English wasn't my first language. I didn't understand early on what was normal slang, mild swearing, or flat out not for public consumption -- it was hit or miss learning on the go. So sometimes I'm still guilty of saying things like the s- word (for poop) because it was a part of my everyday speech before someone clued me in that it's considered a 'bad' word. My kids have immigrants on both sides of the family, so it's been a real study for them as each side passes on its various offenses to polite American society LOL.

I just tell them that certain words are considered tacky, or poor ... and that these words are pretty much only for adults to use (and misuse or abuse if they so choose). Children need to learn how to express themselves properly. It goes along the lines of you have to know the rules before you can break the rules and maybe a bit of do as I say, not as I do and they've generally been agreeable with that. I sometimes pretend not to hear them mutter mild curses under their breaths, and that seems to be a workable if unwritten compromise between us all. This may work if your issue is the actual saying of the words.

If your concern is more with the intent or thought behind the words, then only internal motivation would stop them from saying them (around you). It might be worthwhile to gather some clips (movies, YouTube) of foul-mouthed speakers to sort of say, hey - here - this is what you sound like. Is this what you want to emulate, someone who appears ill-educated and -mannered, and who makes people around him uncomfortable with his choice of words? Someone who values shock value over value of friends and family whose sensibilities are offended? Definitely call his attention to it when you encounter it in public, and always ask if this is a trait he admires and wishes to share. Slow approach, but maybe the only way to change his heart as opposed to just his actions.

I tell my kids that sometimes ... rarely, but sometimes ... really no other words will do. The other day I stepped on a shard of broken glass then stumbled into the bigger pile of it on the floor. I screamed enough expletives that Andrew Dice Clay blushed. Really, they were the only words that were going to do at the time. I sincerely believe that LOL. I tell my kids that very rarely -- like once over a few years -- they may enounter a similar situation. Where no other words will do. And I tell them it's okay to say what they need to say, however it comes out. Just knowing they have that flexibility seems to help a bit with tempering the everyday temptation to spew random foul phrases.

#21 mom4him

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 04:35 PM

When we were in Denver, my dh was in charge of the kids because I was in charge of making sure the medical staff didn't kill our oldest son, they went to the skate parks there. It was not good news as far as language. Our youngest son picked up words that had NEVER been spoken in our home. I dealt with him some when we were there but I was only with them for 1 to 1 1/2 days a week so it wasn't very effective. When we got back home I started to deal with him VERY consistently. The number one thing I did was ask him if he new what the words meant? NO! I then told him that we don't use words we don't even know what they mean. I did explain that they were very insulting and that it. Would. STOP!
I worked with him a bit and then when he would get on a roll, normally when he was angry at me and pretty out of control he would loose the privilege of playing with other kids in the neighborhood. I told him that those parents don't want their kids using the language so it was my responsibility to keep him out of the mix until he could learn to use his words better. It took several times of him spending anywhere from a couple of days to two weeks in our yard by himself. It wasn't fun but it was effective.

Foul language is not acceptable in our home, period.

#22 TaraTheLiberator

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 05:01 PM

Cut out their tongues. :scared:

Tara

#23 Eliana

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 08:56 PM

Tell him that he will NOT not use those words again. If he does, employ whatever means you normally use in cases of disobedience.


I think this would only be effective in cases where a child was making a conscious choice to use forbidden words or phrases. It sounds as if Dawn's kid is losing control - getting so upset he isn't *thinking*.

Imho, the first step in those circumstances is to try to teach the kid to break that cycle, while stopping him each time he loses it... for me, disobedience would be an issue if he continued speaking that way after I'd gotten through to him and told him to stop.

...with an older child, or one in a different developmental space than Dawn's son, I might lean more toward your approach, but I don't think it would be effective int his case.

#24 Eliana

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Posted 20 May 2011 - 08:59 PM

How do I get him to stop? I made a pact with him months ago to not say the word he learned from me, and I haven't. I've explained that we need to aim to say what we really mean when we are angry, hurt, frustrated, etc. Nothing has helped including various restrictions.

Any ideas?


I would take a two-prong approach:

1) When he isn't upset, talk with him about the issue, about learning to exercise self control even when overwhelmed by strong feelings... and then help him develop alternate strategies for handling his anger... and strategies for recognizing that the starting down that path, and redirecting. [And I would try to start noticing precursors to meltdowns, and actively redirecting him and guiding him toward self control.]

2) When he does lose it, I would remind him that that isn't an appropriate way to express himself, and redirect him to be by himself until he can control his speech well enough to be around other people.


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