What to do:
Self-talk. Say to yourself, "It's normal for my child to think that the louder and more annoying her words are, the more that I'll pay attention. I don't like it when my child swears, but I can teach her to get what she wants without using bad language."
Empathy. Ask yourself, "How would I feel if I used a word that got people's attention? I'd probably think that word is great, unless someone taught me that it was not okay to say it because it can hurt people's feelings."
Teach. Tell yourself, "I can help my child learn how to share her feelings and get what she wants using respectful words, not bad words."
Reinforce Not Cursing and Swearing. When you hear people using kind words, and not swearing and cursing, point it out. Say, "I feel so good when people are kind and use nice words, like Mr. Woods. When he's mad, he just says that he is angry and explains what is upsetting him. That way, he can solve the problem that's upsetting him without cursing and swearing.
Let's try it. Pretend you are mad. What could you say instead of a bad word? A suggestion could be: "I am mad that I missed the bus. It's not the bus driver's fault. I was late to the bustop. Next time, I'm going to get up earlier." Practice with your child to help him get comfortable with expressing his feelings respectfully.
Make Rules and Ask Questions. Say, "We have a family rule to respect others, just as we want to be respected. So what other words could we use instead of these disrespectful ones when we're mad?" Suggestions could be: "I don't like it when you pushed me on the playground. That's mean." Or "I think that Sonia is not nice. I won't call her a bad name. I just won't play with her anymore."
Talk about Feelings. If your child uses swear words when she is angry, offer her substitute words you use. Then talk about her feelings to help her learn non-offensive ways of expressing and reducing her anger, and tolerating frustration when things don't go her way. When she's calm, think of things to do so she can get what she wants, such as be patient and cope with frustration.
Suggested solutions: "I will work on my homework before playing outside tonight. That way, I won't be so mad when my homework is turned in late like it was today. I didn't get it done because I was too tired last night." Or, "I'm so upset that my friend Kanye didn't call me. But I can deal with it. He's busy and so am I." Keeping calm will help decrease her swearing and anger.
What not to do:
Don't Wash Out Her Mouth with Soap as Punishment, such as Spanking. Punishment to try to "teach a lesson" by hurting your child simply drives the words underground. Your child will quickly learn that she can use the offending words when you aren't around to hear them to avoid the painful punishment.
Don't Shame Your Child. Shaming by telling your child that she is a "bad girl", for example, tells your child that you do not love her when she uses bad words. But the problem is that you don't love her behavior. Rather than shaming, tell her that you love her but don't love the word she used, and that you want her not to use it any more.
Don't Give Bad Words Too Much Power. Don't get angry or upset about her use of a swear word. And laughing when a child uses a "bad" word also gives it power.