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Contemporary Parenting Questions


Last updated on 01/04/09

How can I stop my children from cursing?

It is shocking to hear a child swear, even worse when it is directed at you. Children in the twenty-first century make use of a vocabulary that degrades themselves and society. Kids and teens use bad words for a variety of reasons; figuring out why a child swears is the first step needed in order to get them to stop.

Some kids swear because they hear their parents do it. When kids hear adults swear it is always in an attention getting tone of voice. Kids try out curse words to see if they can create the same atmosphere and get the same kind of imagined respect. Younger kids are just acting like a parrot; if a parent cursed over the phone when their child was in earshot, they should not be surprised if they hear their child repeating the same choice words in the near future. Very young children sometimes also use “bathroom talk”. Although it can be embarrassing for parents at the time, it is developmentally normal and children generally grow out of it.

Other kids swear to get attention, to gain peer acceptance, or simply to copy the role models they see on television. Although some parents choose to ignore this disturbing behavior, they are avoiding the problem rather than treating it. A child that curses will have difficulty expressing his feelings to parents and teachers. Additionally, children may become so accustomed to using inappropriate language that they will use it at school and work inadvertently and have to face the consequences of their words.

In the Jewish Community

Bad language represents a far more severe problem in the Jewish community than in its non-Jewish counterparts. The Jewish community prides itself on sheltering the children from outside influence. For that reason, many sects of the Jewish community refrain from watching television, movies, or even having internet access in the home. However, some children and teens do get caught in the outside world and pick up a mode of language and dress that is unacceptable in the Jewish community. Swearing in the name of God is one of the Ten Commandments. Although teens who do so may simply be using that language to impress their friends or get attention, parents view it as a much worse problem and overreact.

On the other hand, some teens swear and use objectionable language as a cry for help. They feel so low, far-removed, and unable to express themselves, and they want someone to recognize their pain. Parents must always keep in mind that most teens do not want to be bad. They need their parent’s support; only with that can they move forward and grow to live productive lives.

Use the following links to learn why kids use language and what you can do about it. Find out where you can go for help.

Frequently Asked Links

What is swearing and why do some kids swear?

Why is it a problem when kids curse?

Where do kids learn bad language? more

Why do kids use bad language?

Why do teens use profanity?

Why is foul language such an issue in today’s society?

What should I do if my child uses profanity?

How can I get my child to stop swearing?

What should I do if my teen uses profanity?

How can I help my teens stop swearing?

What should I do if I am a parent who uses bad language?

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Parenting Resources for the Jewish Community

Compiled by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)
AACAP offers up-to-date information on child and adolescent development and issues.

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