Parenting: What to do about swearing

February 15, 2012 3:05:53 PM PST
In a recent episode of ABC's hit show, Modern Family, cute little Lilly started using a not-so-cute word.

As the show points out, Cam makes the mistake many parents do - he laughs.

"Most children swear, utter their first curse word, just to see the reaction, because they heard it before. If they get no attention, that's the end of it," said child psychologist Dr. Marsha Gerdes.

Gerdes says, ignore that first offense. If that doesn't work and the child repeats the curse word, the best move is to make a rule: they can't say it.

"You probably have a lot of house rules, even when you children are very young, like no hitting or no pushing. You've talked to them about that and everyone understands there's a consequence for that. The same way, you can introduce no cursing as a house rule," said Dr. Gerdes.

Dr. Gerdes urges follow-through with age-appropriate punishments if your child breaks the no cursing rule. Another suggestion is to lead by example, keeping your language clean around your children.

Furthermore, resist any urge to turn swearing into a laughing matter.

"That will perpetuate almost any behavior and definitely perpetuate using a curse word," said Dr. Gerdes.

For stories from other parents about their experiences with cursing, or to share your story, visit Cecily's Facebook page.

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