Talk to your child about the consequences for inappropriate language.

How to Discipline a Child for Bad Language

by Melissa King

Hearing your child say her first curse word can be a shocking, jaw-dropping experience. You probably didn't think she was capable of such foul-mouthed language. You try to explain to your child that curse words are inappropriate, but she decides to swear anyway. Although you may feel embarrassed by your child's behavior, you're not alone, as many children delight in showing off their vulgar vocabulary. Children curse for a variety of reasons, but with effective discipline, you can help yours break the habit.

Respond to your child's cursing only after you have calmed down and don't feel angry.

Ask your child why she is swearing. Her answer can help you determine the best way to correct her behavior. For example, if she's swearing because her friend does it, consider preventing her from seeing that friend or having a talk with the friend's parents about her behavior.

Tell your child which words you and other people find unacceptable as soon as you hear her say them.

Help your child think of different words to substitute for the swear words. For example, when she is upset, your child could say "darn" or "drat" instead of a curse word.

Ignore your child's cursing if it seems like she's doing it to get your attention. After a while, your child may get bored and stop.

Take away a favorite toy or belonging if your child continues to curse.

Set up a swear jar for your child if she has an allowance. Each time your child curses, have her put a small amount of money from her allowance in the jar.

Ask your child to sit alone in a quiet room for a timeout each time she curses. This is especially helpful if the child is cursing because she's mad. Sitting alone for a few minutes will give her time to calm down.


  • Ensure that you and other adults in your home don't curse in front of your child. If you use profanity, your child may believe that it's OK for her to do so, too.
  • If your child has been cursing for some time, it may have become a habit. Habits take time to break, so don't expect your child to stop cursing immediately.

About the Author

Melissa King began writing in 2001. She spent three years writing for her local newspaper, "The Colt," writing editorials, news stories, product reviews and entertainment pieces. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College.

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images