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Swearing has become commonplace in our society, largely due to TV and the movies (not to mention bumper stickers). Children in grade school today hear bad language that used to be reserved for high school. But that doesn’t mean you have to listen to it.

The rule

Have a rule that “swearing is not allowed in our house.” Tell your child not to swear around teachers and other adults. Enforcing what your child says outside the home is more complicated. Back up the school and their rules about swearing. Then accept the fact that how your child talks with his friends in private is something you can’t control.

Discipline technique

  1. If your child swears around you or other adults, send him to his room for a time-out. If he does it repeatedly, ground him for a day. But don’t wash his mouth out with soap; that’s too barbaric.
  2. When your child is angry at someone, suggest he tell you about it without swearing. If he can’t, suggest he swear in his room or hit a pillow.
  3. Never wash the mouth out with soap or slap the face for swearing.


Praise your child for not swearing when he got mad.


Express anger without swearing. You won’t be able to get your child to give up any four-letter words that you continue to use. Have you tried “darn it” lately?

Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2008-06-12
Last reviewed: 2014-06-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.

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