We, parents are trying to not use those words in front of toddlers even if we have strong disagreement between each other. But this can be more difficult and complex to avoid them speaking since there are relatives, friends and neighbors involved. And soon children are going to preschool and they will have some friends or seniors who use rude words which is out of control to us, parents.

What can we do about my children potentially using rude, abusive words? Or are they just expressions of social conflicts and let them go?

  • I think this question really depends on your culture and environment, since different societies have varying views on this subject. My best advice would be to practice what you preech. If kids honor you and see that you don't often use those words, they'll probably try to follow your example
    – David
    Aug 5, 2019 at 13:17

2 Answers 2


Our daughter learnt such a word in pre-school and we decided to handle the issue by:

1) Not making usage of such words "taboo", as we believe that anything that gets strongly forbidden will be more appealing later on, and it's really hard to give a logically consistent reason to forbid cuss words, since her friends, people o the streets, and occasionally we will be using it.

2) Convince her that while those words can be used they are often unpleasant, and if you're angry you can use other, much funnier words, like "brontosaurus"! Or "pudding"!

I do agree that there will be a time when you have to explain when they can or can't be used, but that's more useful on older children, IMHO.

  • I love the idea of teaching them to substitute other words for swear words. Sadly, I don't think it will be a solution which stands the test of time and the challenge of societal norms, but love the idea anyway. Feb 20, 2017 at 20:33
  • @FrancineDeGroodTaylor Absolutely agree, there will be such a time; but our hope is that when that time comes, she'll be able to understand the more complicated discussion about societal norms and customs :-)
    – Ciacciu
    Feb 21, 2017 at 8:51
  • Please don't follow the "brontosaurus" advice if you don't want your kids to be the focus of all kinds of mockery!
    – David
    Aug 5, 2019 at 13:16

For me there is a difference between using an inappropriate word or phrase to describe something -- like pain or fear and using it aggressively.

"Oh s***, I stubbed my toe!" is very different from, "You are full of s****."

Your child will see and hear these words used by family, other kids and even in the market or playground.

I'd identify them and tell your child the truthful definition (sure, you do not have to describe a sex act -- but that isn't really what the word means when used that way).

I would not let my kid use "stupid", "moron", or "retard" -- not to mention racial or sexist slurs. The only way it makes sense to her is to tell her exactly why.

I also think that having other words to describe our feelings gives us a better chance of being understood. If the 'f' word is the only descriptive in use, most of us think that the person isn't bright enough to come up with another word like "very".

Swear words have their place. You will use them. The point is that using them appropriately was learned by all of us. I knew better than to use those words in a job interview, in polite company, or to my students. I do not even have to think about it. It also has more impact because I swear only when I want to be heard!

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