Effective ways to deal with children who swear

Like adults, kids use foul language and swear words to express their frustration.

This could be the way they enrich their vocabulary, and sometimes they want to share those words with family members. However, you need to help your kids understand that swear words are not acceptable no matter what the situation is.

What should parents do about kids with potty mouths?

• Be more mindful of what you’re saying in front of the children.

There are the odd occasions where parents softly mutter swear words in the presence of their children. Kids may pick up on these and think it’s acceptable to repeat it in other situations.

• Keep a serious face

There are times when it is actually funny where a child swears, and you end up laughing out loud.

However, you must remember to keep a straight face in the future because your giggles may give them the impression that using swear words is a form of entertainment.

• Offer some alternatives

When your child is experimenting with new words, give them exciting suggestions. For example, snoopy nose for poopy-nose.

If they use swear words to express their anger and frustration, teach them to say “I’m mad” or “I’m frustrated” instead of swearing. You can also be creative and give some alternative words for them like “Oh, shoes!”.

• Set some rules

Firstly, don’t be mad at your child when you catch them swearing. If you overreact, your kid may deliberately use swear words to effectively catch your attention.

If your child uses a made-up word like “penis-brain”, tell him no such thing exists, and you have no idea what it means. You don’t have to give them an absolute explanation, just emphasise that those words are unacceptable.

However, if your child keeps on swearing despite your warnings, punish them accordingly. Using a calm voice and keeping a serious face, tell your child they took it too far and place them in time-out. Make sure you are firm enough, so your child doesn’t take the punishment lightly.


Children use swear words when they want something. Do not entertain their request when that happens. If you reward them when they swear, they will think swearing is helpful.

Teach your children empathy. Ask them how they would feel if someone called them “farthead”.

Teach them that swear words can hurt other people’s feelings. Understand that as children, they are likely unaware of what is right and wrong.

Thus, your reminder to your children plays an important role in developing their vocabulary.

This article first appeared in hellodoktor.com and was reviewed by Dr. Duyen Le. The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.