17 answers

How to Get Child to Stop Saying a Bad Word?

Hello, My dear 5 1/2 year-old has unfortunately picked up a word from a classmate at school that I would rather he does not say. The word is "sexy" and boy does he enjoy saying it or rather singing it and the coordinating body movement. of course he has no idea what it means. I told him it wasn't a good word for children to say and of course that makes him want to say it all the more! When he was younger and would bring unappropriate words home they never lasted very long. However this one has been in his vocabulary for about 3 weeks now. He's also asked me what the word means and I must admit I was speechless for a few minutes and did not know how to answer his question. I said the first thing that came to my mind but now in hindsight I don't think it was the best answer and have since given him another definition. Please help. What can I do or say to make him stop? I fear that he will say this word on a playdate or around other kids who are not familiar with this word.

What can I do next?

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Tell him it is unacceptable and if he says it again tell him what his consequence will be. (5 minutes time out, no TV, staying in room, etc) Make it very plain that he will be punished and what the punishment will be and then follow through with no backing down. You are his parent and it doesnt matter what another child's mother allows. You determine what you will allow and there should be no debate. Just PLEASE dont wash his mouth out with soap. I think that is the most rediculous punishment ever and it might be harmful.

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Ignore this one. Any parent worth their salt will recognise this for what it is: a kid trying out the boundaries. And if he teaches it to another kid, oh well. These things happen.

When my kids came home with the f-word from kindergarten, a bit more dramatic imho, we told them these were potty words and they could say them as much as they liked in the bathroom, but nowhere else. After several bouts of screaming "f-,f-,f-!" at the tops of their lungs alone in the bathroom, all the fun had gone out of it, and I've not heard it since.

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I had a 3 yr old who picked up the word sh** because that's what my hubby said when frustrated. Once I corrected my hubby the 3 yr old stopped. However at age 5 almost 6 he's old enough for a frank discussion about what he should or shouldn't be saying.

I'd be honest with him and say "That word isn't something we say at our house and I should have told you that before. Your friend's mom might think it's ok but I don't. You need to stop because other parents are not going to allow their children to play with you. So starting right now I don't want to hear that word out of your mouth again. If you do I will be very disappointed and we'll have to figure out a punishment."

Of course if he says it again follow through with a punishment.

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Tell him it is unacceptable and if he says it again tell him what his consequence will be. (5 minutes time out, no TV, staying in room, etc) Make it very plain that he will be punished and what the punishment will be and then follow through with no backing down. You are his parent and it doesnt matter what another child's mother allows. You determine what you will allow and there should be no debate. Just PLEASE dont wash his mouth out with soap. I think that is the most rediculous punishment ever and it might be harmful.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi D.,

They word "sexy" is a very demeaning word, basically meaning "good for sex". No one should aspire to be seen as this. Unfortunately, our society promotes this as a good thing, and it has become accepted as mainstream. Your son is using a word that he does not even know the meaning of. I would do like what a few of the other mom's said and simply under no circumstances allow him to use this word. It is a disrepectful word whether used by a child or adult.

A.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi D.,
I agree with Nan. If your child was 2 years old and picked up a bad word, if you ignore it and don't give a reaction, they stop using it. Your child is almost 6 years old. If you don't want him saying this word, tell him that it is against the rules and if he says it again, that there will be a consequence or punishment just as there would be if he broke any other rule. He is choosing to say the word and he is capable of not saying it at his age. This isn't any different than him doing any other behavior that you don't want. Tell him if he ever says it again, there will be a punishment and then follow through. This isn't a toddler who you can't control. If you tell him he's not allowed to use the word and he does, he is being defiant, just as if he disobeyed you in any other way.
Good luck

1 mom found this helpful

Ignore this one. Any parent worth their salt will recognise this for what it is: a kid trying out the boundaries. And if he teaches it to another kid, oh well. These things happen.

When my kids came home with the f-word from kindergarten, a bit more dramatic imho, we told them these were potty words and they could say them as much as they liked in the bathroom, but nowhere else. After several bouts of screaming "f-,f-,f-!" at the tops of their lungs alone in the bathroom, all the fun had gone out of it, and I've not heard it since.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with Mindy. At almost 6 years old it is not the same as a toddler and cannot be ignored. If you were out in public and heard a six year old say these words wouldn't you say, Why doesn't his mother correct that"!!! There needs to be consequences at this age they surely know right from wrong by now. Find what ever he likes and take it away as punishment. For any type of unfavorable behavior there needs to be consequences it is the only way discipline works. Good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi D.,

I know this is not going to be your most politically correct response, but since you've been going at it from a positive front for 3 weeks, it may be worth a try. My suggestion is that you find your son's lever, the thing he enjoys most (for my 5 year old, it's the brief time he's allowed to play his Wii). The next time he says the word, you explain why he shouldn't say it (that you've asked him repeatedly, that it's an adult word and implies things kids don't yet understand, that you realize he's just being silly but that's not an ok word to be silly with) and you tell him that it's not ok for him to use it. You tell him that you're very serious about it, and that if he uses it again, he'll lose his Wii (or whatever) for the rest of the day (or, if it's too close to bedtime, the next day). I can almost guarantee you'll hear it no more than once more. I personally don't think it's a bad thing to put some teeth into the things that matter to you--as long as you don't use it for every little thing, it can be very effective. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi D.,

I've given some thought to your request since I read it this morning, and I think your son may need two things: 1. an age-appropriate explanation of *why* this is not acceptable; and 2. a more appropriate outlet for his need to be a little subversive.

On the first thing, can you try telling him very seriously, with a sort of sad tone, "the reason we don't say that word is that it offends people and makes them feel very bad." I know that with my son, my "mad voice" gets me right straight to nowhere, but my "sad voice" gets instant and lasting results, so much so that I'm careful only to use it around issues I really, really care about.

And on the second, what about reading a book like "Where the Wild Things Are" and then playing at being shocked and horrified when your son plays "wild thing"? You don't have to use this book at all -- there's lots of great children's literature, film, etc., that speaks to children's natural wish to test boundaries. But if you can create a game in which you pretend to be shocked and horrified (and your son knows you're pretending), he may no longer need to *really* shock and horrify you.

Best of luck,

MIra

Well, my son just told me the other day ..that he knows what sexy means, so I calmly asked him...what does it mean... his response was "it means pretty... mommy" and we left it at that. He doesn't need to know anymore than that. He is only five 1/2 as well and a little smarty pants. He left it alone.

My kids heard 'stupid' and 'f..." from a kid in their preschool (the kid was eventually kicked out of school) but my girls had already learned those words. One of mine dropped the f-word in front of our pediatrician, when she dropped the lollipop on the floor. so she knew exactly when to use this word. The ped. said let it slide, don't say anything, don't mention, don't scold. eventually they won't use it again.
she used it a few more times, and never again.
'stupid' on the other hand was never let go off. so eventually i told both of them that it is a very bad word and that if someone hears them use that word those kids will not want to be friends anymore. so, they haven't used it much at all, but sometimes they will say mom remember that word...? but they don't use it. they refer to it as 'that word.'
so, bottom line, my suggestion would be to tell him once that it is a word you'd prefer he not use it.
that said, sexy, hm i don't know, i don't think of it as a word that would get him in trouble. but maybe i am wrong.
good luck

Boy, do I know that feeling! My daughter who is in 1st grade is also saying sexy, and I told her it is not a nice word and not appropriate for a child to say. It is coming from her classmates, with all of the Hanna Montona and the like going around, also the music that they are listening to which in my day was unheard of. I didn't even know what sexy was at that age. Keep telling him it is not a nice word, and he should tell his friends the same. I tell her I know she is a smart girl, and that she should do the right thing and NOT say words her friends say when they are bad words. I also tell her it is an ADULT word, and until she is an adult it is not allowed. I know it is frustrating but I'm am sure there will be worse words to contend with in the future. Patience and persistence is the way to go. Hope this helps.

This is harsh but safe, a drop of tabasco. works every time. After you do it once all you need to do is show the bottle.

Hi D.
I have to say..... this was the first request for advice that actually made me LOL! Sorry to find it so funny, but I know that when I tell my husband that this child is in trouble for singing the word "sexy" and has no idea of what it even means, he will LOL over it. He will bust a gut for sure, not because of your parenting (you are doing a great job) but because the kid is singing the word and doing the body movements with it & all that. So comical!!! Thanks for sharing! Seriously though, I think the best way to handle it is to just ignore it. If he gets no reaction from you over it, he will no longer have any use for the word. As far as wanting to know what it means, just tell him that it's just not a nice word & that it makes moms and dads upset to hear it. That's all he needs to know about it. Good luck Honey!
D. N.

Hello D.:

I am a mother of two children and I will tell you both of my children picked up words from school and they will pick up many more. I would do my best to explain to my children that these words were not good to use. Unfortunately, it is difficult to explain this to a child. I found that when I stopped responding to them using these words, they eventually stopped. I simply had to ignore it and not respond. Yes it was hard, but I must say it worked. It will not work overnight but eventually your child will get tired of using the word to. Patience is a must. Unfortunately they are going to pick up more. It is tough, I know. Good Luck!!

D., please explain to your son the reality of words when he ask you, if not the streets are going to take control of him and his choosing of words. sexy is not a bad word by any definition. when your kids come to you about anything, parents are the best person to explain to them, and with honesty, and try not to pass the buck O.K.be his parent and his best friend.

You'll have to excuse the messy form in which this is writen but I wanted to get everything down while it was all still freash in my head...

I just explained what sexy means to my 7 year old and it went very well. I explained to him that this is a word that only grown ups should use and not children his age and if he hears kids at school use it thats ok. their parent's may not have explained it to them or if they did then they may not have told them that this is an inappropriate word for them to be using. he nodded and said ok. then I proceded to tell him that sexy is the overall description for the things grownups and older kids (teens), like about a boy or girl that are close to thier age. so i explained if they (being the adult or teen) like someone alot because he/she is nice and good to other friends and people around them or you think he/she is pretty or handsom or smart, then these are things that make a person sexy...

D.,

I like to joke to my friends that if they want their kids to do something, tell them not to do it. Few things are more attractive to kids -- and most adults -- than the forbidden. And the more you tell your son not to say the word "sexy", the more he realizes how much it pushes your buttons and will use it. I agree with the others in their advice to not make a big deal out of it. Do explain to your son that it's a word you prefer he doesn't use, but don't react when he does. After a while he'll see there's no fun in saying the word if it doesn't get a rise out of you.

This is definitely one of those situations in which you have to pick your battles.

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