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Does Your Child Have a Potty Mouth?

Dealing With A Child Who Uses Foul Language

Although it can be unpleasant -- not to mention embarrassing in front of others -- using foul language is a normal part of pre-adolescent development. Children swear in order to appear sophisticated in front of their friends and to shock their parents; it's a way to test limits and be "bad" without really being bad.

Fortunately, most children eventually lose interest in swearing. Until then, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the following advice on how to react to your child's foul language:

  • Make a firm "no swearing" rule in your house. The rule should apply to parents as well as children -- you can't expect your child to adhere to a rule that you ignore.
  • Don't overreact when your child swears. Instead, remind him of the rules and move on.
  • When children swear in anger they should immediately be sent to their rooms for a time-out.
  • Washing a child's mouth with soap is "improper, extreme, and ineffective," according to the AAP.
  • No matter how good our intentions, most of us swear in frustration -- when we stub a toe, for example. If you do it, your child probably will, too.
  • If your child is swearing in order to get a response from you, it's usually best just to ignore it.
  • Offer your child rewards for finding ways to express frustration or anger without swearing.
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