Nov. 14, 2022

Ask Margaret: My 8-year-old Has Some Spicy Language

Does your child have a mouth you wouldn't want him to kiss you with? If your child is on a swearing streak at home, here are some tips for handling it.

Have you caught your kid using some choice words in your presence, perhaps ones he picked up from older friends or even you yourself? Wondering how to rein in your little goodfella?

A listener wrote in to say:

"Our almost-eight-year-old has been hanging around some older kids, and has found it amusing to use various swear words both casually and in a derogatory context at home. We’ve had multiple talks about how, while we don’t care that he knows these words, we don’t want him using them in our presence and in the presence of others as they can be considered very rude and insulting.

It hasn’t seem to have made a difference. Is this a phase? Do we just blank-face ignore it? Is it time for a negative consequence for swearing just because he gets a kick out of it? We also don’t want it to wear off on our four-year-old."

Margaret says that finding the middle way between reactive punishment and blank-faced detachment when your kid swears in front of you is the key to success. Here's how to thread that needle.

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