Years ago, washing your child’s mouth out with soap for swearing was a common punishment. While in theory cleaning your child’s mouth out with soap should send him the message that swearing is dirty or bad, in reality by putting soap into his mouth you are reinforcing the unacceptable behavior with another negative behavior. Fortunately, if your child has a problem with swearing, there are more positive and less invasive ways you can effectively nip it in the bud.
Watch your mouth. If you want to have a child that does not swear, it is important that you refrain from swearing. If your child hears you swearing, she will naturally repeat what she hears. Since you are your child’s role model, if she hears you swear, she will think swearing is okay.
Avoid responding positively. The first time you hear your child use a curse word in the appropriate context, you may be tempted to laugh or tell others about what your child said. Responding positively to your child’s swearing will only send the message that swearing is acceptable and deserving of praise.
Offer correction. If you hear your child swearing, immediately get to your child’s level, look him in the eyes and tell him that using those words is not acceptable. For your child to understand that swearing is not okay, you will need to consistently offer correction.
Provide alternative words. If you notice your child is using swear words in context because he’s frustrated or irritated, offer and encourage the use of substitute words and phrases. “Slithering snakes,” “Jeepers creepers” and “Oh my goodness” are examples of substitute phrases. You can also make up your own words and phrases to use.
Implement consistent consequences for swearing. Having your child drop a quarter into a jar each time he swears, do an additional five minutes of chore time or lose five minutes of television time can be effective consequences for swearing.