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How To Talk About Swear Words With Kids


How To Talk About Swear Words With Kids

Parents try their best to shield their children from bad things happening in the world. However, it’s impossible for parents to be around their children every single second throughout the day and it’s inevitable that they will become exposed to certain things such as swear words. Kids shouldn’t use swear words, but strong language can be found in various forms of media including YouTube, advertising, or even overhead while out in public. Either way, there will come a time when every parent has to have a talk with their children about swear words and profanity. This is a stressful task for even the most seasoned parents who might not have the slightest clue how to tackle such a delicate subject. Don’t worry because we’ve put together a guide on how to talk about swear words with kids below. 

Calm & Composed Demeanor

Children are sensitive to energy and can pick up on emotions you’re exuding. So make sure you try your best to remain calm and neutral if you hear your kid swear or use an inappropriate word. If you have a big reaction to a swear word, your kid could feel more compelled to use it behind your back. Children get a thrill out of being taboo and breaking the rules, so keep this in mind when you start off the discussion. Ask where they heard the word from and see if this source is a positive or negative influence in your child’s life. 

Explain The Meaning

Many times, children blindly emulate actions they see online or use swear words they overhear without even knowing the meaning behind the words. Use this as a teaching moment and explain the meaning in a calm manner. They may be shocked to know the true meaning behind the words they’re saying and might want to stop purely based on the definition. Be open to answering questions from your children and allow it to become a respectful dialogue. Explain how some words can be hurtful and/or could have a negative impact on those around them. 

Establish Rules 

In your household, it’s up to you to establish a set of clear yet easy-to-follow rules and guidelines when it comes to swear words. Let your children know exactly which words are inappropriate and never to be used in and out of your house. Calmly explain to your children why they shouldn’t use rules, so they have a reason behind the rules. Also, think about coming up with consequences for using swear words or if you notice this becoming a bad habit. Make sure your expectations are simple and clear, so there’s no wiggle room for misinterpretation or finding a way around your rules. 

Offer Options 

The urge to use a swear word may feel like a compulsion for some children, so it’s important to offer alternative options. Try to be creative and think outside of the box when coming up with fun options. For example, your child could use “oh fudge” or “fiddlesticks” when they get frustrated rather than the actual swear word. Children will feel like they’re following the rules but also using something similar to express what they feel in a healthy way. 

Role Model

Remember that as a parent you’re an authority figure, but you also serve as the primary role model for your child. Be honest with yourself and notice if you’re using swear words way too often around your children. They have a tendency to emulate you and your actions. Consider your range of influence and think about switching up your word choices or slowly reducing the frequency of swear word usage. Using respectful language will go a long way and your child will easily pick up on this. You can decide to embrace the alternative word choices that you establish for your child if you really want to make a significant change for the better. 

Swear Words in Other Languages

Sometimes children might use swear words in other languages, but approach it the same way as you would English swear words. First, look up the meaning of the Spanish words, calmly explain the meaning and highlight why it’s inappropriate to say. For example, pendejo meaning translates to pubic hair. However, pendejo is commonly used to mean “asshole” or “idiot.” Explain the negative impact and how it might be hurtful. 


When kids use swear words, they consider it fun because of the taboo aspects. However, kids shouldn’t use swear words, or else it can become a bad habit and they can start getting into trouble. Either way, talking to kids about swear words can be a stressful task for any parent. Approach them with a calm and composed demeanor, explain the meaning, and establish clear rules in your household. Also, offer alternative options, remember that you’re a role model, and approach it the same way when you hear swear words in other languages. This is a loose guide on how to talk about swear words with kids that you can apply however you see fit. 

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