How to Teach Toddler Not to Swear?

How can I teach my toddler not to swear?
profile picture of Kate Roberts, PhD, licensed clinical psychologist in Salem, Massachusetts
ByKate Roberts, PhD, licensed clinical psychologist in Salem, Massachusetts
Clinical Psychologist
Updated
Mar 2017
Hero Image

There’s nothing like having your 2-year-old drop the “F-bomb” in front of Aunt Faye or your nosy neighbor. But don’t sweat it too much — swear words are everywhere, and a child’s number-one job is to copy the adults around them. The most important reaction is to have_ no _reaction. The more weight you give a swear word, the more this sounds out a signal that this is an important word, and one your child will want to repeat.

So if it’s a one time thing, just let it go, but if it happens regularly, it’s time to have a conversation. Start by telling him that the “bad” word makes you sad (a concept he clearly understands by now), and that it’s not a word you like to use. That’s really all you have to say.

Of course, you should try to keep your own conversations clean. The more you curse, the more he’ll try to imitate you.

More from The Bump:

Related Video

Mayim Bialik Just Laid Down the Law Against Spanking (WATCH)

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
08/28/2017

Kristen Bell Reveals Why She Makes Her Daughters Share a Room

Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
03/05/2020

Toddler Screaming?

Elizabeth Pantley
Parenting Expert

What a Stranger’s Comment About Her Toddler’s Tantrum Taught This Mom

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
06/27/2017

Too Much Tech: Parental Phone Use Linked to Child Misbehavior

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
06/02/2017

Should I Worry About My Toddler’s Short Attention Span?

Michael Lee, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center and pediatrician at Children’s Medical Center Dallas
Pediatrician

Armless Pilot Jessica Cox Meets Toddler Born Without Arms

Cassie Kreitner
Senior Editor
Published
07/30/2015

Mobile Screen Time Starts Early, Study Finds

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Advertisement