Discipline for Cursing and Foul Language

Kids are exposed to curse words in the home, at school, and through various media. At some point these words are going to make their way into your youngster's vocabulary. The trick is to not shield him or her from this inevitable exposure, but to learn how to offer a fair and just consequence that will teach the child that using such words is unacceptable. How you decide to discipline your child for using curse words will depend largely on his or her age – and your personal values.

Tips for disciplining children who curse:

1. Avoid using extreme techniques to discipline your kids for bad language. Communicating with your youngster about the importance of using good choices when speaking will encourage him or her to use words that are positive and appropriate. Let your youngster know why bad language is not permitted in your home and the consequences for such behavior.

2. Explaining to your youngster that curse words can be hurtful to others may help him or her understand the importance of using positive words.

3. Follow through every time with a consequence. Warn your youngster of foul language consequences before he or she tries to use another one, and enforce those consequences every time you hear foul language. Some moms and dads get creative with techniques, (e.g., sending their kids to the bathroom every time they use "potty" words), but an older boy or girl may respond better to lost privileges (e.g., a quarter subtracted from allowance for each offense).

4. Encourage your youngster to find words to use in the place of curse words. Silly words or made-up words can be fun for kids and can be helpful for grown-ups who are guilty of using bad language as well. If your youngster is using bad language to get your attention, ignore this behavior and model appropriate words for him or her.

5. Hold back laughter or shock. Moms and dads need to control their responses. A strong response (e.g., laughter, anger, surprise) may cause your youngster to continue that language to evoke a similar response in the future. But, if you ignore the language, your son or daughter may realize that it isn't an effective attention-getting strategy, and he or she may stop using it altogether.

6. No matter what the situation, it is always good to give your youngster one warning before you hand down a consequence. If the one warning is ignored, send your youngster to his or her room. If the youngster's foul behavior continues after this first small consequence, ground him or her to the bedroom for the remainder of the evening. Make the consequences more severe as your child’s disobedience continues.

7. Be patient with your child as he or she learns to find appropriate words to use during periods of frustration, anger and disappointment. Help him or her find acceptable words that “express” emotions. Discharging negative feelings is important. The opposite of “cursing” is “stuffing” feelings, which is not good either.

8. Your youngster may have heard bad language coming from his or her own home. Don't expect your kids to use good words if you and your spouse have trouble holding back your own curse words. Apologize if you accidentally let foul language slip out so that your youngster doesn't begin to assume that cursing is simply something that adults do.

9. Praise your youngsters for using appropriate language. They will be more likely to want to use more constructive words if you praise them when they use them (e.g., "I love that you used your good words to express your disappointment").

10. Don’t just concentrate on the bad words that your youngsters may have picked up along the way. Remember to thank them for using kind words when you hear them, and let them know how proud you are that they can express themselves in a positive way.

11. Separate your kids for a few minutes if they become angry with one another and begin to throw curse words at one another Take them to two different rooms, sit each down and explain why those words are not used in your home. When the two have calmed down, bring them back together and allow them to play. If the cursing begins again, separate them and once again explain the rules.

12. Categorize words by level of tolerance. For example, (a) ones that you dislike but will let slide ("stupid"), and (b) words that will never be tolerated (racist and sexist words). Alternatively, you can give your youngster a list of words that are “off limits.”

13. Kids sometimes have to learn the hard way that calling a friend a bad word can lead to retaliation and that it is the curser's responsibility to deal with this unfortunate consequence.

14. Remember that kids are like parrots. They will repeat just about everything they hear. They will assume that if mom or dad is saying these words, they must be okay. Show them through example that using a proper vocabulary is the only acceptable way in your house and that bad language will lead to consequences (e.g., loss of television, computer time, a treasured toy, etc.).

15. When issuing a “time-out” for cursing, give your youngster 1 minute for each year of his or her age (e.g., a 5-year-old would be in timeout for 5 minutes).

My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents

How To Get Children To Do Homework

How can you get your child to do his or her homework with little or no fuss? Take the advice of the following parents who have "been there and done that"...


I find that a routine really helps. Letting them unwind for a while helps too. I know I like to rest or relax between jobs. School is their job, so sticking them with another right away seems like a sure way to agitate them. My kids are in 1st and 4th grade, so homework is still relatively easy. I stay in the same room and usually do dishes or get dinner ready so if there are any questions, I can answer them. I also look over their homework after they're done and help them work through any mistakes until I believe they understand the material. YOU are their primary teacher. You are the one responsible for them when they leave school. Passing it off on the teacher is shirking your responsibility to your kids and just being the good guy. Your kid might like you better, but you're not doing them any favors in the long run. It also helps you to see how your kids are doing in school - where they need extra help or where they need to be challenged more.

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I try to get my son outside right after school, because it gets dark earlier now and he can't go out after dinner and he needs exercise. But I won't let him use the computer and things until he is done.

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I think of school as a kid’s job. What would happen if you did not do your job ...you would not get paid and therefore could not buy things. I would say no extra things for that child. If it is that bad and the child is young, I would reward them for good grades, which is a result in doing homework. 

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I'm pretty tough on my son when it comes to his grades and homework. So to help, we try and make the stuff he really enjoys a privilege – like playing video games, watching TV, and having a yummy dessert after dinner. In order to do or have any of these things, he has to earn them, so if he doesn't do his homework or comes home with bad grades, he can't have certain privileges and that seems to work for me and my husband.

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It was suggested to me to let my son not do his homework, but also don’t let him do anything that he enjoys doing, for example, watching TV, playing etc. And when it came time to hand his homework in at school, let the teacher punish him. I actually spoke to my son’s teacher and now if he doesn’t do homework, he gets kept in at playtime to complete it.

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Maybe what is wrong with your child is not that he doesn't want to do homework. Maybe he either doesn't understand or wants attention from you. Sit with him or answer his questions if it seems like he is struggling. Also, if you have other children, try to spend 10 minutes every night just you and him talking or reading to him. You will see his negative reaction to homework will diminish with time.

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My 7 yr old son hates homework. Yet, when he sits down to do it, it only takes about 5-10 minutes to complete it. I have found with my kids that if I give them a snack when they get home and about 30-45 minutes of time to unwind, they fight me less about doing homework. We have a routine. We stick to it and adapt only when necessary. Get home at 2:25, discuss their days while having a snack until around 2:40, then bathroom and free time until 3:30, at that time homework starts no matter what they were doing before. I help each one as they have questions, but I won't do it for them. If they don't want to do it, I don't force them. I simply remind them that they must sit with their homework until it is done. NO soccer practice or game, no chorus, no playing, no TV, etc. Even if they have to sit in the car with their homework while a sibling is at a game or practice. They now know what I expect and they do their homework at the designated time. They even remind me that it is 3:30 when I get busy and don't notice right away. Routines are a must.

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My 8 year old last year just wouldn't bring his homework home; he would throw it in his desk. I started taking away his play time. He liked to play the play station every day, so I took the play station away for 2 days for every one day he forgot his homework. He stopped putting his homework in his desk.

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Natural consequences: if he doesn’t do his homework, he will be in trouble at school.
My boy was the same …absolute nightmare every night then I was told by a well educated and experienced lady that homework is a contract between child and teacher. My headstrong boy learned the hard way if it's not handed in on time and without appropriate parental note, that he has to stay in at lunch time to complete it. Works so well!

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Usually if my son doesn't do his homework, it means no play station. Most times in the afternoon we have a routine which goes like this: afternoon tea, a little play outside, start homework, then dinner/bath etc., then he is free to do what he wants. I think he has figured out that if he keeps delaying the homework, it eats into his free time and then there is no time left for play station, reading, playing, Lego, etc. I let him have a short play when we come home as he is only 7, and I think they still need a bit of a break to refresh after school.

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We set up a routine, time and place for homework. Also, either my husband or I will sit at the same table and do some of "our work." For example, could be paying bills, balancing a check book, writing out a grocery list, thank you notes, or reading the paper, so they know everyone has work to do – homework is theirs. Also being with them. We are right there if they have questions. My boys are 10 and 7. I also often tell them that I loved school, but forget a lot as it was so long ago, and ask them to teach me something they are going over in school. It helps them study without them knowing it, and they are proud about what they've learned. I usually pretend I didn't know anything about it, and sometimes I didn't. Lastly, I agree with the advice of letting them suffer the consequences of not doing their homework. I would contact the teacher to let them know what you are doing so they know you are involved and care. At our school, if you don't do your homework, you must stay in at recess to finish it. Try to stay calm though …it certainly is frustrating, as you don't want to make ‘homework time’ negative. Also, instead of giving punishments, you could try catching your kids being good. When they DO their homework, give them a positive reward …play a game with them, read a book with them, let them do a privilege.

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What we do in our house is that if homework is not done, then they lose the other rights of the house, TV time, game time, toys, etc. Then they also have to live with the consequences of whatever the teacher gives them, no arguments from mom or dad. They learned early that if they don't do their homework, there is a penalty for it. One other thing that works for us is that as soon as they get home from school, they use the bathroom, get to their designated area for homework and get started. I get them a snack and a small drink. This way they have no excuses for getting up and it gets done more quickly. Then when the homework is done, they have the rest of the afternoon and night to play or do what they want to until dinner and bath. It helps because they realize when they do what they are responsible for, they have more freedoms.