Who We Are | Friends & Supporters | You're Not Alone | We Recommend | My Child | Store

Search the Invest In Kids website.

Ages and Stages

What to expect and how you can help, as your child grows and develops.

Answers for Parents

Reliable information on a wide range of topics.


Thank You Scotia Capital for supporting this website.

Home > My Child > Answers For Parents

My Child
Setting Limits: Swearing

It may be helpful to know that most young children will use "bad words" at some point, if only because they've heard other people say them and they want to see your reaction. This is typical of preschoolers and it's also likely to happen again when they start school or day care.

Your child will learn what's okay and what isn't either from the way adults respond to his language or from the language adults use themselves. As your child gets older and learns to master language, he won't need to use swear words to express negative feelings.

It's important not to seem too upset when your child starts swearing. Your child may not even know what the words mean. But it's also important not to ignore it, either. She may be swearing as a way to get your attention. So instead of getting upset, clearly and calmly explain, "We don't say those things in our house." And make sure you live up to your word by not swearing as well.

It's also helpful to encourage your child to talk about his feelings. You can help by suggesting acceptable words to use when he is angry or frustrated.

There are children who will continue to swear or call people names even after they know it's unacceptable. They may do so because they're constantly exposed to such language in their family or neighbourhood. They may also be unusually aggressive or defiant children. Or perhaps they're behind in their language development, so that they don't know how else to express their anger and frustration.

If this behaviour happens so often that it's clearly causing problems for your child, consult your child's physician. If you are in Canada, and you wish to speak to a counsellor about this, contact Parent Help Line, 1-888-603-9100.

Rate this Page

Related Content

Related Resources


We built this site for you. How are we doing?

tell us

Join Us
Helpful tips and parenting news delivered right to your inbox.

sign me up

Mini Poll
I feel pressure from my in-laws to change how I parent.

I agree
I disagree
I am somewhere in between

Help Us Help Kids
Help Us Help Kids
Donate Online
Get Set for Life

Your Child's First Five Years