Inside: This is an excellent (and fun) tip to use with your kids if you catch your kids cursing. No one wants their child cussing so here’s what to do.
My husband and I were in the other room with the younger kids when we heard a commotion.
My 7 year old daughter yelled…
“Mom, he just said THE F WORD!!!!!!!!!!!”
We looked at each other in surprise… so our 6 year old son had learned the F word and used it on his big (kinda bossy) sister.
Well… that was a surprise.
I didn’t need to ask where he’d learned the bad word
Kindergarten had taught him a few choice words. And the truth is, our kids are going to hear bad words and that’s life.
Even if we never say them.
You may play only Christian music in the car, but someone in the checkout line will curse. You choose “good friends” for your kids and they’ve learned “bad words” from their teenager neighbor.
And on and on.
The truth is, I knew they’d learn these words eventually, and I was prepared.
I knew my reaction to the bad words mattered
As I called my son over to get to the bottom of this, it was important I didn’t freak out.
Make a huge deal out of it.
I knew that would give power to the bad words and then – when my son was frustrated at me – he might use these words to push my buttons.
So we called him in. We explained our family rules about using curse words. Basically, we don’t use these words ourselves and don’t want them used in our hearing.
We think there are other more age appropriate words that can be used to express whatever we want to say.
Then I broke out the Best Trick Ever
And what is the best “consequence” for using curse words?
➡️ Give them somewhere they CAN say what they want to say, but not to you or in your presence.
I said calmly to my darling potty mouthed son, without any signs of anger or frustration or shock….
We don’t want to hear these words. So if you feel the urge to say that word, that’s fine, you can go to the edge of the yard and say it out into the trees until you feel finished.
He just stared at me for a minute. He knew the word would not be okay with me, but he didn’t expect that.
Now, if you don’t live in the woods like me, you can save potty talk for the room with the potty.
“Saying what the child can do also avoids the pitfalls of Taboos. Taboos are guaranteed to challenge kids and focus their interest on the problem.”
Sandy Blackard, mentor of mine and creator of the bathroom trick, from her book SAY WHAT YOU SEE©
Send your child to the bathroom with their potty mouth
You can say something like….
“If you want to use that word you can do it in the bathroom with the door shut so the rest of us don’t hear it. You can come out when you’re done.”
Then you let them have at it. If they come out and want to say the word again, send them back in until they get it all out.
They may go into the bathroom to say their bad words a time or two but, honestly, kids aren’t that interested in cussing if nobody is listening.
By sending them to the bathroom to get out their potty talk, you’re not giving power to the bad words. Children have an innate desire for power (we all do) and we as parents can’t control what comes out of their mouths.
If we push hard on this, we’re likely to get into a power battle over ugly words. And this could escalate into some nasty conversations as the kids get older.
Instead… state your boundary, don’t act like the kids are going to end up in a gang because they said the S-h word, and send them to the bathroom to let it all out.
Back to when my son yelled the F word to his sister…
So I tell my very analytical, quite serious, mildly perfectionist 6 year old son all nonchalantly that he can go the edge of the woods and yell that bad word into the woods if he wants to.
I had been clear about my expectations with him and hadn’t acted shocked and appalled about the whole thing, but I was curious… why exactly had my son yelled the F word at his sister in the first place?
So I said to him casually…
“What happened? Why did you say the F word to your sister?”
As he started telling me the story, I was glad I hadn’t pulled out a bar of soap to shove in his mouth. That would have been premature…
He said to us in a serious business like tone…
“Well, I was trying to talk to her and then she kept interrupting me. She started repeating every word I said. I kept telling her to stop and she WOULDN’T.
So then I said the One Word I KNEW she wouldn’t repeat back!”
I had no words.
My husband fought the urge to congratulate him on his ingenuity and I just kept thinking, well, you gotta hand it to the kid.
He knew the rules so well he used them to outsmart his sister.
He’s said one bad word since then….
After that incident he dropped the F bomb once more.
He got sent to the edge of the yard, of course. And I’ve never heard him or anyone else in the house say a bad word since.
Because we were clear about the rules.
We didn’t give the curse words unnecessary power.
And we took away the temptation to use the words because we didn’t make them taboo…