Mom writes in asking for help:
My six-year-old son likes to use the four-letter bad word. I don’t know where he learnt it because we do not use such words at home. I have tried everything to stop him – from counselling to smacking to time out, etc. This has been happening for about a month now. What should I do? He does not use the word in school (checked with the teacher)- only at home.
Here are the “un-cut” and genuine responses from our readers…
Vaishnavi Danavallen: Maybe he’s using it repeatedly with you because he can get strong reactions from it…try ignoring it and see. All the best.
Jacqueline Yap: Give him a new word to use and make the new word sound cool. Kids forget.
Chii Fei Ho: Kids at that age do not know what that four-letter word means. The more you react, the more they will use it to get your attention and reaction. I would suggest that you ignore him each time he uses it until he finds that there is no effect on you anymore. As what Vaishnavi has pointed out.
Aqif’s Mummy: Kids tend to catch things fast…once my son, a 3-yr-old said a few words that are not appropriate for his age…a warning from me and he stop saying all that word…thank god.
Jane Tay: Pls explain to him clearly what is the meaning of the bad words, my boy 9 years old and he learned from youtube. When I explain to him, he feels shy and dare not say again. If not work on him, try to get the teacher to help. Six age child normally very very believe and trust their teachers.
Rebecca Dai: This is not pleasing. He’s only six. If the home’s not the cause. Be extra cautious of his peers or playmates. Avoid bad influence before he tends to pick up more crap in later school life.
Sharon Loke: Could it be from the cartoon program? I watch a cartoon program with my sons 1 day on OKTO & I heard the word being said… So shocking!!! If not wrong is recall it’s Adventure Time.
Ivy Ng: How many hours do spend with your child in a day? Children like to get attention. Maybe this is a way your child uses to get your attention. Try to explain to him why he shouldn’t do so. Tell them what they can and can’t say. If he still doing so, after you explain it to him, instead of smacking him, you can punish him by giving him something that he doesn’t like (helping in house chores) or take away something that he likes (no tv time or take away his favourite toy). Don’t give too much of attention only when children are doing something not nice. We should put more attention when they are behaving well (eg. praise them when they speak nicely and well-behaved). Give a small treat each time when he speaks something nice could help too. Good luck.
Jayashree Panicker: What you really want him to do is understand that using such language is not in his favour ultimately. It is in bad taste. Do you think you might have a bigger problem than just him using profanities, he is not respecting your authority. Some structure and discipline could be cultivated? He needs to respect himself through your own example (of you respecting you) to not want to use such language. Being a kid, he could be doing it just to seek attention, even if it’s negative. Not paying him attention may not prevent him from using them in another avenue where he knows he’ll get attention. Maybe you could consider carefully what is the root of this attention-seeking pattern? The temporary solution would be to just give him negative attention that he stops doing it. Also, it could be a habit. Kids pick up things from media at the drop of a hat, without understanding it even. To instil a sense of respect, maybe you could try looking for appropriate children’s literature or even YouTube videos that deal specifically with using profanities.
Elaine Ong: Tell him he can’t use the word until he can fully explain the meaning of the word to you. And if he can tell u the exact meaning then you tell him how contextually it does not make sense to use it.
Elaine Chan: J does that cos he picked up from watching adult English movies. We noticed it & explained that he can’t use it as its vulgar & he stopped since.
Joanna Au: my boys went thru the same phase too… I actually sat them down and explained the meaning of the word to them…apparently…they picked it up at the playground and school bus… I went on to remind them that they had to watch the words that came out of their mouth because it is a reflection of their family upbringing…how people will instantly judge that they have not been taught…it takes time for them to change…it works when we remain patient and also point out negative examples we witness outside…and asking them how they feel abt children who spout unkind and dirty words…it works…but u must be patient…hang in there…
Fadilah Al Khatib: he might have picked it up from anywhere. i told my kids that if they speak any bad words, spiders will grow in their mouths n eat away their tongues. silly as it may seem, it actually worked! Heehee
Janice Tang: it’s not easy in this society, but let them know cause and effect in life. What goes out will eventually come back to them. Let them know to speak good words, bad words will attract devils. This may be putting fear, but somehow they need to know in life we cannot deny this truth. Otherwise, a human can do a lot of bad things and say what they like to hurt others. Parenting is tough. They might not understand now, eventually, they will.
Mona Ben: Since he has used the same words on different occasions you may want to think through the preceding events that caused your boy to use the profanity. If you find there is a particular reason for his reaction, like anger, for example, you may want to address the situation via social stories. Perhaps teaching him other ways to express his anger, which is allowed. However, if there is no apparent reason, you may want to be very firm in the punishment. But before you punish him kindly tell him why it is not an acceptable behavior. Be very firm with your punishment for him. Do not raise your voice or show anger. Remain calm n carry out the punishment. If you are firm it will send the intended message to your child.
Princess Abdul: I did go thru the same incident with my child. I try to stop it but nothing works. Coincidently, my child had quite a bad ulcer… that was the time I took my chance n told her that it was a punishment from GOD when one said bad words… It sounds a bit ridiculous but it works!!! Asked my child to apologise to GOD n promise not to say it again. Since then NO more bad words.
Amanda Ong: Sidetrack a bit. My 3 yr old gal once said that word then, in the end, we realized that she meant ‘fork’. And when she first saw her baby brother, she actually used her middle finger to point at him. Recently, I saw her watching Barney on YouTube singing song on family. Thumb is father, the index finger is mother and middle finger meant brother… Lol.