How do I stop my child from swearing? (FAQ)

This is a FAQ post.  These are the most popular answers to a real question asked on The Imperfect Mum. 

I’m needing advise on how to stop my 3.5 year old from swearing! She constantly swears when angry/frustrated or when she simply doesn’t get what she wants.

I admit I’m guilty of dropping the F bomb on occasion.

How do I make her understand these words are not appropriate or acceptable?


We’ve always told our daughter who’s 5 that she can swear as much as she likes. As long as she’s in the middle if a paddock with no one else around. She’s happy with that and have never heard her swear.


My son and I have this problem atm. He has his angry toy which he is allowed to squeeze and if he yells, then he must explain why he did it.
I also have a bad chart. If I loose my temper he gives me a cross and if he uses a naughty word I give him a cross. The person with the least about of crosses picks our weekend activity. It has worked wonders.

Make a big deal of another word! Like pineapple!

I think you’ve passed the point of ignoring it being an effective solution since she knows how to use it in context – it doesn’t sound as if shes trying to just get a reaction looking for consequences. As so many have already said – if we lived in a perfect world, yes, ideally we wouldn’t have to hear it. But our little ones are sponge-absorbing little parrots of the individual worlds in which they live…
In my opinion I think she’s old enough to understand there are different rules – ie ‘this is how we behave in a restaurant; these are the rules at home; daycare has different rules; different rules at Grandma’s house’ etc etc…maybe it would be helpful to start reinforcing the message that just because its ok for other people to swear – you won’t allow it and most importantly won’t allow her to swear – wherever she is – regardless if she hears others doing it – even adults. That same lesson will have to be learnt as she gets older anyway – ie ‘just because your friends get to ride to school by themselves doesn’t mean I will let you’ etc …you get the idea..
My little girl was 2 when she learnt the fbomb (I take full responsibility) and bless her cotton socks – tested me in the middle of Woolies screaming it at the top of her lungs, on repeat, for what felt like 10minutes one day. No doubt because she enjoyed the look of horror on my face. It was horrible enough for me to think I should just push the trolley to one side and pretend she wasn’t with me (I’m joking!!!)
…at the end of the day, it’s hard not to laugh when we first hear them say something they shouldn’t…but as parents we all want our little Angels to at least act like angels in public even when we know they’re really not!!!
I say knuckle down with consequences/rewards…get yourself on repeat until you are sick of hearing your own voice and before you know it – your determination will pay off…she’ll know what boundaries not to push with mum.
And try and get as much reinforcing help as you can – daycare, family, friends you socialize with…so she keeps hearing the same rule reinforced. I’ve had to do the same thing, for a number of different rules. And it’s a never ending process this repeat stuff!!! But happy to report that after 6.5yrs my girl knows what’s a bad word and she can’t use them (regardless of who does in her life) ….and also uses her manners – saying ‘please and thank you’ was a huge thing for me but persistence paid off!
And you are already setting a good example by not swearing around her yourself which is important. Good luck with your gorgeous little rebel – I have one just like her – a relentless little boundary pusher!  Xx

Find out where she is learning it from and stop that to start with! Try a reward chart and give her a sticker for each day she doesn’t say naughty words and when she gets a certain amount there is some type of reward….

I’ve explained to my boys that they will hear lots of words, but they’re not say them until they’re 18….

In a perfect world they wouldn’t hear swearing, but this is not a perfect world. My kids went through it too, I agree with with the advice of Ignore it. The bigger reaction they get the more they do it.

As a mum of a 5 and 2.5 and having to use public transport, kids hear all sort of things! It’s as easy as being in a shopping mall or walking down the street. You can control whats said in your home but once you leave that they are open to hearing anything and everything
So far I haven’t had to deal with the F bomb – just make it clear its yukky words naughty ppl use even if mummy or daddy say it they r naughty and shouldn’t. Babies are so easily influenced – good luck!
People are first to blame parents, but as a pre-school teacher – I know it’s not always parents to blame sadly

My husband and I swear quite a bit but all our children – right down to miss 4 – know it is not acceptable for them.
Last week 4yo said ‘piss off’ and that was enough to unleash a whole cascade of discipline on her! They are not responsible for their words…we are! So you may want to look at where she is learning it and if it’s in context.

Posted in:  Behaviour, Kids, FAQ

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