Bad Words from Good Kids – How to successfully stop your child from using bad language

Nothing can really prepare you when your child uses a bad word or harsh language with you for the first time. After the initial shock wears off, you are left thinking how to best address this issue before it gets out of control!

Here is how you can approach this issue calmly.


For children under 4 years of age, just ignoring it is the best practice. They may not even understand the meaning of the bad words. But if they know they can get a reaction by using bad or harsh words, they will continue to do it. Whereas, ignoring it will take the fun out of the game. Eventually they will know it’s not something important enough for your attention and stop.

Another technique is to substitute the bad word with a similar sounding word. Eg, if your child says “shit” change the word around with something like “Do you want a shirt?”

Young Children

Young children probably do understand the meaning of or the context of the bad words. Of course, if you demand directly that your child stops using that word, it is not going to work and neither is anger.

Try to observe when is it that your child uses bad language. Is it when he/she is stressed, tired or hungry? In that case, simply attend to that immediate need.

Older Children

Children usually mimic adults or people around them who they look up to. If bad language is common around your child, then punishing is not going to solve the problem. It is probably better to sit down with an older child and explain to them that bad words cause hurt and pain on people. Next you could try to explain why people around them swear a lot by offering explanations like “It is not ok to swear but Uncle Ajay swears sometimes because that is the way adults cry”

Another alternative is to get to the root cause of why your child is swearing so much. He/she maybe experiencing some undue peer pressure to fit into a particular group or he/she maybe trying to appear cool. Alternately, they may be using bad words in the wrong context. In any case, it is best to sit down with your child and get talking to find out what has brought on this kind of behavior.

And last but not the least, start with yourself. If you react with anger or sudden outbursts, you will not raise a child who can have control over their negative feelings. So if you believe that your child is mimicking you, start by correcting yourself.

Then Observe why and when your child uses bad language. It could be a major change in their routine, new friend circle or situations that they don’t enjoy being in. Often the root cause is easy to identify and fix.

Spend special time with your child every single day. This is a great way of knowing what is going on in their life. That way you and your child will feel more connected to each other and easy to open up about issues.

And lastly, relax! A few bad words doesn’t mean that your child is going to turn out to be a criminal! They just needs you to be there for them!