What Do I Do When My Child Says Bad Words?

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“Oh, no… My child uses bad words.” Some mothers use phrases like this to express their shock at the repellent expressions coming out of their children’s mouths. They’re often surprised and wonder: Where did this come from? How should we react to it?


What should you do when your child, a three-year-old, stuns you by repeating dirty words? Here are some guidelines:


  • First, know that children don’t find bad words in their thoughts naturally but rather repeat what they hear around them, especially in the world of grown-ups who sometimes talk without being aware of children who hear them.


  • In the same way, children, wanting to imitate the other kids at day care, repeat with absolute ease what they hear there. Children also pass on what they hear in their homes, at their neighbors’ houses, or even in the street.


  • Children don’t understand most of the obscene expressions they use but simply repeat them, parroting without being aware of the meaning. Therefore, there’s no need to be anxious when you hear your child utter them.


  • In all cases, however shocking the words are that you hear, don’t overreact—not even if you felt your three-year-old understands what they’re saying. It’s more productive to look for the reason behind your child’s swearing or bad words.


  • Young children may utter obscene words when they feel bored or neglected or want to draw attention to a situation that’s worrying them.


  • Many children resort to getting attention by using these words when they’re jealous of a brother or sister, or when they suspect that a parent may be absent for a long time.


  • It doesn’t help to deal with the issue by showing emotion and yelling; blame and reprimands only serve to increase your child’s feeling of guilt, without deterring them from repeating what they said.


Finally, don’t forget to praise their behavior when they make it through the day without using any dirty words.

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