Q&A: Stopping my child from swearing


How can I stop my child from swearing? I’ve confronted him about this several times. But the problem only gets worse. What can I do?

Answer: Assuming you don’t swear at home yourself, there are many places where he could have picked up this bad habit. The most likely culprits are the media and school. Although you can’t shield him from every negative influence, it’s important that you regulate his media habits and oversee his social interactions.

Also, our counselling team recommends that you consider his motivations. Why is he using these words, especially in your presence? Is it a symptom of rebellion? An expression of anger? A reaction to feelings of rejection? In that case, it might be wise to ignore the language for a moment and deal with deeper emotions. Ask him some strategic questions about school, his social life, and how he feels about his relationship with you.

Eventually, you’ll want to make the point that profane language is inappropriate in polite society. Make it clear that he’s expected to clean up his language as long as he’s in your home. If he refuses to cooperate, apply appropriate consequences—for example, the loss of television, computer or video game privileges for a period of time.

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