What to do when your children swear

Children from 1 to 5 years old automatically tend to imitate everything they see and hear around them, and this often includes curse words.

When this happens, parents and adults react in different ways: some laugh; some get angry; and others feel ashamed, depending on the place and the circumstances.

But what makes children repeat these types of words? Preschoolers between 3 and 5 years old go through a very special developmental stage.


They start being aware of what goes on around them by exploring and socializing with others through language.

And even though they will progressively discover the true meaning of words, it is very common for them to incorporate bad language into their speech for various reasons: to imitate people in their social environment; to get attention; or to go beyond the limits set for them by their parents.

Imitation is necessary for a child’s development, and so keeping our children from using foul language can be a really difficult task.

Besides monitoring what they watch and hear on TV, at the movies or on the radio, it is very important to maintain certain control at school, most of all during breaks, and at home, especially if they have siblings.

Spending time with older kids might negatively influence their vocabulary. Since they always tend to imitate what they see and hear, setting a good example is key. When around them, use clean language and refrain from swearing.

Remember their age and don't let them participate in adult get-togethers such as dinners at friends’ places or house parties where the guest list only includes adults. In addition, when they curse, avoid laughing or smiling.

If you behave naturally and don't pay the incident too much attention, the child will eventually stop cursing.

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