Question:

Hello Jeffrey,

I was wondering if you could give me a few strategies for deterring swearing in my eight year old.

It has already happened twice in the last few days, and I've explained to him why it's not appropriate to say those things. So I am hoping that did the trick, but just in case, what should I do next? He's not saying it to anyone in particular, but I don't want this becoming a habit. This is why I don't like his older brother swearing because I know he'll picked it up from him, but I doubt his older brother will stop.


Answer:

Explanations are necessary, but so are consequences. "The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother" (Proverbs 29:15). It takes both knowing why something is wrong and a consequence to doing wrong to bring about a change in behavior.

One idea that works in some households is a bad word jar. Each time a person swears, a quarter is dropped in. The money is collected is then used to do a good deed for someone outside of the family. At first the amount seems minor, but it adds up. It is the consistency in which it is applied that makes a difference.

If you can get everyone to agree the profanity is not good, it is easier to get cooperation. We've taken in children and simply told them that bad words are not permitted in our house. We don't make a big deal about it, but we reminded them when a bad word slips out. It is amazing how quickly the children's language adapts to the environment.

Along with that, we use TV Guardian and ClearPlay on our television. These devices are set to remove bad language from whatever is being watched. A lack of input results in less profanity being said.