Bad Words

Updated on August 29, 2007
S.H. asks from Mountain View, CA
8 answers

How do you stop or help a 2 year old understand that bad words are NOT nice words. I have tried to use other words to replace but he has not adjust. He has been doing this for two months now. It seems to bee getting worse. He uses it on context like when he is mad or wants attention. The father would like to use soap but I feel he is too young still. Any other methods out there that work

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answers from Las Vegas on

My little one says, "Da#$% it!" whenever he is frustrated or something goes wrong. My plan has been to completely ignore it and not give it any attention. I have been making sure that I don't use bad words in front of him so that he doesn't pick up anymore. I'm not sure where he picked up that one because it isn't a phrase that I use. I have been working on my cursing habit since my older son was born. I've been good, but I'll admit, certainly not flawless. I try to substitute other words for my own. I'm hoping my little one will pick up on those. This sounds insane, but I actually learned a few Klingon curses. Sounds ridiculous, right? If he ever repeats a Klingon word, no one will understand or be offended, right?

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answers from Las Vegas on

I think one thing that can actually make the situation worse is giving him lots of extra attention (even if it is negative attention) when he says bad words. Kids catch on pretty quick when they do something that REALLY makes mom and dad take notice. When my younger son went through a "potty mouth" phase we would first calmly tell him that he needed to use a different word. After that, we would ignore him whenever possible (especially when you are at home and noone else is around). When he didn't get the reaction he was looking AND we totally ignored him when he used words he had been told were not acceptable he got tired of using the words.
It can get worse before it gets better though. When you first stop reacting he may use other words or use them more frequently to try and get you to react again...stay firm and IGNORE him when he uses language that isn't allowed.
Also, don't feel you are alone in this, most kids go through a potty mouth phase. Good luck.

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answers from Fresno on

My daughter is 18 months old and she started to drop a curse word here and there. Actually, the first time she said a VERY bad word we were at my grandmother's house. This was shocking, to say the least. She speaks in complete sentences already, but she is still so young and I wasn't really prepared for punishment yet. Let me tell you what we did, and it's actually worked so far. Anytime I hear her say a bad word, I tell her NO. You don't say that. It's a bad word. She likes a reaction, so I don't give her much of one, other than remind her it is a BAD WORD and put her onto a time out. She understands that, and once her time out is over she tells me Sorry momma. No say bad word. It's been awhile since I've heard her actually curse, because instead of actually saying the word that she needs, she replaces whatever word with "bad word." She actually says "bad word, bad word". I'd rather have her saying that than *&%#. :) Whatever you do, don't let your son see you get all riled up about it. Make sure that you keep continuity in whatever punishment you decide on, because that's what he is going to come to understand. And the whole soap in the mouth thing...that's probably not a great idea. At least not until he's older and can comprehend exactly why you are doing it. Right now he is so young that he's just going to misinterpret it for "Mommy is SOO mad at me right now." Not, "That was a bad thing to say."

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answers from San Francisco on

Your son is exploring his world and finding out where he has some control. It seems like he's learned that these words get a reaction from others and this in turn gives him power.

The best thing to do is to not engage in a power struggle. Ignore and redirect. Be consistent in this and get your husband to buy into this approach. Also, be a good role model - it is hard, but as adults WE set the tone on acceptable language. It would be very confusing for your son if he hears the words used by adults (in person or off the TV) but he is not allowed to use them himself. He doesn't fully understand that there is differences between being a child and an adult.

On the use of soap OR hot sauce - I don't believe that this is effective at ANY age. It borders on abusiveness and cruelty and only teaches children to be more sneaky and question/mistrust authority. I strongly discourage any practice that humiliates a child because it will only fuel further worse behavior.



answers from Las Vegas on

We decided to try time out on the potty! I explained to my son the words he was saying were potty words and if he used them he would sit on the potty for 4 min. We just put the lid down and let him sit. He hates time out and time out on the potty even stopped in about one week although we still have the occasional potty mouth.



answers from Las Vegas on

Hi S.:
Some kid movies have bad words and that is a problem. My boys are 5 and 7 now and what worked for me and still does is that I tell them that there is a smater way to express themselves even if they are frustrated and angry. So we practiced good alternatives. The main point for me was to let them know how smart they are and what are the smart choices. Later on they will pick up on what other kids are saying. So they will either point out who wrong it is or they will say so and so can say it...then you say you are my kid and I will not allow it and so on, but I usually go with you are smart and smart people use other choices.



answers from San Luis Obispo on

Dear S.,

Well, for one thing, when he does use the bad words, pick him up and remove him to another part of the house so that you two can be alone, and quietly tell him not to say that anymore. Yes, that is obvious, but the important thing is to not make a big deal out of it, especially in front of people. He gets a kick out of the attention. Yes, it reinforces the use of the words.

Have time out - yes, it takes time, but it is time well spent. Then you say - you can leave here when I tell you, and not before - you stay there, and don't make the time out long - remind him that when he doesn't like something that he has to say something else - you figure out what to tell him to say - you know what is acceptable in your family.

The most important part of this is the quick removal and isolation and calm down period, then the o.k. from you - that helps to solidify your power over him. Yes, sounds like the UN, but that is true. Then his release with new words to say.

Afterward do not talk about it in front of him.

Hola ! After a while, no more bad words, and he will probably forget them quickly.

C. N.



answers from Las Vegas on

Well he is kind of young for using soap on him though when he gets older that will help. For now what you may want to do is everytime he says a bad word have him give you one of his toys. That away he knows that if he says a bad word he won't be able to play with that toy for a couple of days. When he has no more toys left he will, maybe, understand that using those words will leave him with nothing to play with.
Hopefully that works for ya.

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