Is It Okay for Kids to Curse at Their Parents?

As a parent, you probably desire and expect a certain degree of respect from your offspring. If your child begins throwing curse words at you in fits of frustration or anger, it’s time to draw a boundary line for your child. With clear expectations and consequences, you can teach your child that you don’t find his language acceptable.

Rules and Consequences

You have the right and responsibility to decide what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior in your family. If you decide that your children cursing when they speak to you is unacceptable, then this becomes a nonnegotiable family rule. Once you make this rule, it’s time to attach consequences to it and discuss it with the entire family to make sure everyone understands your expectations.

Check Your Example

If you’re hearing cursing and swearing from your kids, one of the first things to do is check what they’re hearing, advises Madeleine M. Alberts, educator with the University of Minnesota Extension. Perhaps your own example isn’t as clean as it could be. Another possibility is that your kids are hearing choice words through media or peers. Do what you can to get rid of any negative language examples your child hears to make sure your child sees and hears examples of the behavior you want.

Cursing and Name-Calling

Consider the differences between cursing and name-calling. If your child curses during a conversation for added emphasis, it may be the result of frustration, anger or the desire for a reaction from you, advises James Lehman, MSW, with the Empowering Parents website 1. On the other hand, if your child engages in cursing that is verbally abusive or calling someone offensive names, this type of cursing is another matter altogether. A child who attacks in this way needs an immediate consequence to demonstrate the seriousness of the abuse and to show the child that you won’t allow this behavior. Grounding the child from an electronic device for 24 to 48 hours for this behavior might be appropriate.

Young Children

Sometimes young children hear curse words and simply repeat what they’ve heard. If your young child curses in conversation, remain calm and talk to your child about it, advises Kenneth N. Condrell, Ph.D., with the Fisher-Price website. Explain to your child that he might hear cursing or swear words sometimes from other people, but that your family doesn’t use those words. It might help your child understand the problem with swear words if you tell him that swearing can hurt people’s feelings and it also may lead others to think negative thoughts about someone who swears.