I just received this message from a parent:

“My six year old son is very aggressive. When he is told to the simplest thing he in an instant starts to say ‘shut up!’ and uses the ‘F’ word. We have tried everything!! If we put him in his room he throws anything and everything in his room. If we spank him he just gets more mad. If we take away privileges he just doesn’t care. What do we do now…I feel so hopeless!!”

Defiant Child Disrespectful Child
My answer:

Children say what they hear.

I have a child who just turned six. I am sure he would never use the ‘F’ word or say ‘shut up’. The reason I’m sure is not because I’m such a great parent, but because he has never heard these words used before. He doesn’t hear my wife or myself use it, he doesn’t hear his older siblings use it, and we control what media that comes into the home so he doesn’t hear it there either.

Eventually, he will hear it from other kids at school, but hopefully by then he will be old enough to understand enough not to use it, at least his older siblings were.

You need to make your home a place that your child sees as more refined and better than the world around him. Your family should have higher standards of conduct than the society surrounding us. That way your child will see your home as a special place.

You do this in two ways. First, you need to control what comes in your home. Unless you want your child to grow up with decadent morality of Hollywood, modeling the behavior of Hollywood both on and off the screen, you have to limit your child’s contact with the smut that comes out of there.

Second and more importantly, you yourself need to model refined behavior. If you or your spouse use foul language or what raunchy TV shows, if will rub off on your children. Children learn what they see and hear and they copy that behavior.

A six year old or even an eight year old doesn’t know what the ‘F’ word means. He just learns that that is what you say when you are angry. And he learns it from those around him.

Your child’s environment is his teacher. He is going to learn much more from what he sees on TV, hears in music, plays on video games, or observes in your actions, than anything he will learn in school. If you care about your child’s moral social development you have to control his exposure to these negative elements.

The lessons of the surrounding society go in deep. Once they are inside of your child, it will be very hard to get them out of him.

For an easy step-by-step plan to build your relationship with your child and end your child’s difficult behavior forever,

For children 2-11 go to

Child Behavior Help

For teens 12 and older go to

Teen Behavior Help

For more information on how to handle your ODD child or teen:

If your child is 2-11 go to:

The ODD Child Program

If your child is 12 and older go to:

The ODD Teen Program

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    29 Responses to “Your Child and the ‘F’ Word”

    1. Dawn Dickens Says:

      Absolute rubbish, I have never sworn at home, I do not let my daughter watch TV that she shouldn’t. At school she mixes with various. I have to tell her not to use this language at home or anywhere. She replies saying that she needs help to stop doing it. It is nearly every other word. These days it seems that you can’t walk down the street without hearing some awful language. It just rolls off of their tongues. It is very disgusting.

    2. Kelly Elder Says:

      My thoughts are this, if you care about what your child watches on tv, then either dont let them watch stuff with objectionable content (I dont know why you would want to watch it either) or filter out the objectionable content. We use Clear Play. It is a DVD player that you pay an annual service fee for filtering out the garbage. You can get them at: http://www.clearplay.com

    3. Myra Says:

      My son started using the “F” word at a young age as well, in middle school. He was only in 6th grade. Now he’s a high schooler and he continues to use it. Seems like no end in site. I’m just looking forward to the day when he graduates from high school and get the heck out of my home, then I will have some peace, free from any foul language.

    4. Sharon Says:

      I agree with everything posted on the blog. Young girls today have no respect for themselves and sexuality has taken over their brains. My 11-yr-old great-granddaughter has had to be “tamed” on more than one occasion with regard to make-up and provocative (age inappropriate) clothing. The way she and her friends (male and female) correspond on IM and Facebook is deplorable and she is under close scrutiny when she is in our care (we have her every second week for a week). I believe that pre-teen dances are inappropriate for children who are under the age of thirteen, but it seems to be the new generation and these dances are not going away any time soon. When I hear 8 to 12-year-old girls talking about “going out with” so-and-so, dumping someone, being dumped, getting into “cat fights” with their friends over boys (best friends who are soon not their friends), having those X-friends ganging up on and threatening to beat up so-and-so…I just can’t believe how things have gotten so out of hand compared to back in my day (I’m 61). These young girls have no clue what they are opening themselves up to and they don’t seem to care. They just want a boy in their life…no matter what they have to do to get him!! I wish there were some easy answers. We just do the best we can with what we are up against in this new technological age. I wish every parent the best of luck. I’m just glad I’m done with part of my life and my kids are all quite well-adjusted adults. But I certainly do worry about my grand and great-grand kids every day. I don’t believe the 11-yr-old is into sexting yet, but we have our eyes wide open where phones and computers are concerned. We monitor her email and messaging and have had to have her remove certain trouble makers and “potty mouths” (we call them) from her lists. Fortunately, she doesn’t get bent out of shape because she knows the rules and does have some common sense about some things.

    5. Anonymous Says:

      my 14 year old talks like that also
      how do you get him to stop if every body around is saying it?

    6. Liz Says:

      To make kids stop doing wrong you must be willing to make a punishment and stand by it. when my children were young (their friends visiting too) and the first bad word said I got a bottle of cheap shampoo then I found some doggie poo in the yard put it in the shampoo and told them since they want to speak dirty and I like clean speech every time something dirty was said they would have to wash their mouth out with a tooth brush and THAT SHAMPOO! I give only one warning to watch that mouth then they wash that mouth. One washing is generally all they need. Now my grandchildren and their friends are warned about the shampoo and what will take place if any dirty words are said after 1st warning.
      (The rest of the story) – Buy a cheap shampoo – from one bottle pour shampoo into some another bottle put baby shampoo into the empty bottle then soften a brown crayon – shape like doggie poo put this bottle away don’t let kids see it.
      Now when your kid says a bad word, reprimand on the spot then get the other bottle of shampoo with kid in tow find some doggie poo – put into shampoo telling the child he will have to wash his mouth out with that shampoo. put it in a easily spotted place for them to see so it helps to remind them of the consequences of dirty talking. send them off to play. while out of the room change bottles. discard the other bottle down the toilet. The thought alone sure does wonders and when one has to wash the thought there also does better than any spanking! My shampoo has been on a shelf in the living room for twenty years and is quite the conversation piece. every one knows momma Liz’s special dirty word cure. No matter how they talk outside my home (my property – yard included) inside my home they watch their mouth with one eye on the shampoo! This works with all kids just don’t tell them the secert. Even you were grossed by only reading about it. See it works

    7. A Mom & teacher Says:

      Even if parents don’t use foul language, and there is no t.v. or movies, kids will get exposed to nasty language on the street, going to the supermarket, stopped at a red light with windows open, or from kids at school or in the park. A child will sense that this word has a mean connotation and will use it when mad even if they have no clue what they are saying. It is up to us to say, “you may not use those words around here.” and provide a consequence if it continues. some parents will still use soap, or hot pepper to remind a child it is not acceptable.

    8. Marcia Whiten Says:

      I struggle with my 13 and 12 year old children also using the F word. It seems as if these kids don’t have any respect for their elders and each other. I use to punish them every time they would use the F word but the punishment after awhile did not matter to them. In my household, I don’t use this type of language and I have restricted my children from listening to music that uses such language. These kids are surrounded by outside influences friends and school. I feel it is a loosing battle to getting them to stop. I keep trying by using the scripture and reminding my children why it is important to have respect for self and others. I hope that one day they will see the need to remove the F word from their vocabulary.

    9. PK Says:

      I have to agree that minimizing children’s exposure to unacceptable behavior is very important in helping to raise them well. Unfortunately, we cannot control all they are exposed to, so once they have the exposure and they continue to do the scenario presented above, then what? I’ve got a six year old with ADHD, ODD and she often yells at us (her parents) and her siblings to “SHUT UP”. Mind you, we don’t use that phrase in our home, but she learned it somewhere. Likely at school, and also on some movies that I was deficient in screening properly. This precedes the throwing of items. She has not responded at all to anything negative. She is sensitive to blood sugar level and I often forget that she may be hungry and also tired. This usually is an evening adventure. Last two weeks, I grab her and hold her until she calms down. I kiss her, talk positive words to her and many times it works. I’ve started keeping OJ in the fridge and sometimes I have to drip it in her mouth with a straw b/c she is unable apparently to cooperate at all. I would like to hear some short term ideas too – long term, yes definitely, but short term would be helpful as well. When the brain is just not firing properly (FAS is at the top of her list too), and when you have not had the children since birth to have implemented all the long term values and standards, it is quite a stressful experience.

    10. melanie thompson Says:

      I have never used the f word or any other unpleasant words, yet my 8 year old came home only the other day and said his friend had told him a word that was bad. When I asked him what it was he said it was something like SHUNT! I told him that this is what trains do with trucks it means to push. The next day he came home and told me he got it wrong and it was – – – T! I explained to him that it was an extremely awful word and that clever people dont need to say such words. I also told him that if he was to say it in school he would get expelled and that if he used it at home he would have his mouth washed out. As the lady above my ethos to our more colourful words in our language is we wash dirty clothes, we wash dirty hands and so we wash dirty mouths! My younger son has never said anything unpleasant words …..yet maybe because my children know that if I threaten a concequence to an action, I always carry it out! You cannot sheild your children from outside influences other parents may not have the same values as yourself, all you can do is guide them in the right direction so when they are in the big bad world they can protect themselves and have strong self respect and pride.

    11. lima Says:

      I have a son 13 years.i would like to say that even if parents use foul language at home it is not really important that your child would copy what you say ….to be honest with you i sometimes use this language when i am so frustrated or angry ….but i never heard my son say one nasty word ….our children are surrounded and exposed to nasty language on tv ,movies ,songs , games , friends , streets , shops etc…. i taught my son in early age that this language is bad….my son knows and understands that these words have no existency in everyday life ….these words harm the soul… even if he hears me he reminds me not to say them again because he thinks these nasty words hurt his ears…….i think punishment is not the right solution…it is rather being open with your child make him understand that what you say is bad and you want to get rid of it and you need help… i trained him this since he was a child …he never says one bad word ….what i know is that children never like to be restricted by taboos and punishment but rather by a nice word or by reminding them of good and bad and discussing all issues with your child….

    12. Diane Says:

      Kids will pick up those words no matter what you do. We monitored what my daughter watched and she was homeschooled, so she wasn’t influenced by the media or school. But she still heard the words around the neighborhood and from her friends at church (of all places).
      But the original message from the parent worries me. My daughter was exactly like that (spankings making her worse, not caring when privileges were removed, even kicking holes in her bedroom walls). She never changed. She is now 17. We took her in for counseling at 16. Turns out she probably has borderline personality disorder. So sometimes, there really is nothing you can do.
      My advice is to get that boy in for counseling now. Maybe early intervention would have helped my daughter, maybe not, but it’s worth a try.

    13. Mary Says:

      I, sometimes see adults laughing when their little ones curse. So, of course the child will continue to do that, because they like the attention they are getting. When I see this I say to the parents, “you may think this is cute now, but you won’t think so when you are called at work to come & get your child from school because they are cursing in the classroom”.
      You have to establish and stick to your house rules, if there is no cursing, there is no cursing. A consequence for your own child could be to go to their room for 10 minutes, or if, they use the room to entertain themselves, then sit on a chair for 10 minutes, if their friends curse in the home they can be sent home. Or how about the cruel and inhumane punishment the teachers gave us. Write 100 times, “I must not curse”. There really is nothing cruel about this and teachers should be allowed to apply non-physical consequences for behavior they don’t want in their class rooms.
      If you don’t do something about the little things like cursing, what’s going to happen when the child gets old enough to drive, there are no consequences for the child taking the car without permission? As a single parent who raised 2 kids, I can tell you that life will be much easier for you and the kids if you establish rules, and stick to them, because the kids learn pretty quickly that mom means what she says, and stop testing the rules all the time. Of course, it’s normal to occasionally test them…we all do…”when the cat is away the mice will play”. Mary

    14. Mary Says:

      In response to PK’s comments, I can tell you as a nurse who worked in child psychiatry FAS kids are often extremely difficult to deal with because they don’t seem to learn from their mistakes. However, the suggestions I would make are (1) to separate the behavior from the illness, for example, saying, “shut up” is a behavior. Decide how you are going to deal with the behavior, often ignoring is a good choice for behaviors that don’t cause harm to the child or to other people. The entire family has to agree they are going to ignore the behavior of yelling “shut-up, or name calling. Just pretend you don’t hear hear her. For behaviors such as hitting, use time-out (TO). If you need to hold her, you can use a chair her size and sit behind her, crossing her arms in the front and hold her hands in the back, if that’s not possible, place her in your lap on the floor cross her arms in front and restrain her legs with yours. When she is calm then she should take the TO in the chair, and tell you why she need to do so. Try not to talk or make eye contact while restraining except to say, “Are you ready to start your time-out?” Use a timer, for a child with her problems, I would start with about three minutes. The sound of the timer let’s her know you have not forgotten her. Also, it’s good to use a timer for transitions. Set the timer, and tell her. “when the bell rings it will be time for your bath; to leave; lunch, etc. These kids do much better with predictability.
      These kids also frequently have seizure disorders, that are not your typical seizure disorders, and may not be readily apparent. Some of the medications used to treat ADHD, may also lower the seizure threshold. These seizures may not show up on an isolated EEG, so, if possible a longer video EEG, may be helpful, but, probably best to start with regular, when you know meds are in her system.
      As a parent, I understand why you kiss her to help with calming her down, but there is the problem that you are giving her positive reinforcement for negative behavior, try just holding her quietly.
      I also found that at bedtime rolling the child up in a blanket or sheet and holding them helps them to calm and settle.
      Use soft music, massage, when she’s agitated.
      Stick to a schedule, and frequently reward, “I like the way you are playing nicely.” Catch her being good.
      You have a difficult road ahead, so find a professional who deals with kids with FAS. Check the university hospitals in your area.
      Also, I would suggest reading Michael Dorris’s book, “The Broken Cord”.
      Hope this helps a bit. God Bless, Mary.

    15. Cindy j Says:


    16. Brooke Says:

      im not a parent, but by the way i have been raised to know that cussing is wrong. now at 19, i haven\’t cussed nor has my sister. My brother on the other hand is horrible with it. i think it depends on how strong willed a person it is. it would be so easy to be with the crowd and just cuss, but you have to have a will to keep the morals you believe in. Also i think it has to do with wheither the child is just being sneeky. he never said any cuss words in the house till he was moving out. In school he did cuss all the time though. you can raise kids to meet the moral standards you want, but later on its what they decide is right and what they want to stand for. Hopefully they are strong enough willed to stay with the morals they have been taught. You can punish them and teach them but when they leave the house its all about their choices and its heartbreaking to see my brother choose some of those things he does but i know that some day he\’ll find his way.

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    18. Cape Health Says:

      I agree that any 6 year old doesn’t know the f word and are usually just repeating what they hear. They know its ” bad” to say but do not specifically know the meaning. My daughter knows words she should not say. I never swear in front of my children but im sure other kids do swear in her presence.

    19. natasha lowery Says:

      We don’t use the language at home. We watch on T.V. television, and we limit even that. He picked the F word up at school and we tried to act like we didn’t think it was really a word, blew it off, acted like we had no idea what he was talking about. He’s a brilliant child, though, and we could not fool him. He uses the word to test us. We stay calm, say nonchalantly, “Whatever that is, it’s not something we say around here,” and we change the subject. Only works half the time. Basically, it all comes down to when he is FEELING compliant. He wants to be in total control. If he has a day where he WANTS to say the F word, he will. If we make a big deal out of it, it will become his new favorite word. We have to walk on eggs shells about how to deal with this. Once he KNOWS it’s naughty, he’ll cling to it like wet to a duck.

    20. natasha lowery Says:

      my comment is supposed to say We watch only ‘G’ T.V., and we limit even that.”

    21. Really? Says:

      Okay – I completely get and agree with what you are saying – but the person who wrote this was asking for help. Not some holier than thou diatribe on what perhaps she should have done from the beginning. Yes, you are right! Congratulations! But you failed miserably in saying anything of value to a mom who is obviously hurting NOW and trying to help her child NOW. So pat yourself on the back – I’m sure you made her feel like a crumb.

    22. M Jacobs Says:

      I agree with Dawn. We don’t curse in our home. I monitor all tv. I monitor the computer. I monitor his ipod touch. I even deleted some apps and restored it after he jail broke it with a friend.. We are a Christian Family and it doesn’t matter to him and hasn’t since he started 7th grade.. F this F that, what the F. He is almost 15. We have disciplined almost to an illegal point, since this foul language started, see some improvement after saying no to many requests, but still comes back like a tick. Hormones and fitting in in school can play in on it a bit. I am searching for answers too.. Could be he will grow out of it, or not.

    23. Daisy Says:

      Well inmy Home there is no cursing at least from me & my Husband even my grandkids & my kids I adopted my son when he was 4 years old and he curses up A storm he has no respecte for us or in School.. he does not care for consecuensce he has been in the Hospital hitting makes him more aggresive

    24. admin Says:

      Children are affected by everyone and everything in their environment. That includes music television and movies. Children are not born knowing bad language. They learn the words and in what context to use them from those around them. That is why you need to be very careful of the types of things your child sees and hears.

      No child lies consequences. However, there are effective ways to administer them and ways that just make everything worse. Our program on consequences focuses on how to do this correctly so that the behavior you are trying to correct goes away without engendering resentment.

      We also have methods to teach your child respect. This is even more important if you want a respectful teenager.

    25. rhonda Says:

      I have read most of the comments, and wasn’t going to leave a reply … but I decided to. I am 50 yrs old and the mother of 6 and grandmother of 14. I have really sat back and tried to make some sense out of the children of my offspring. With so many different personalities and so many walks of life {son in laws are various types from bikers to crystal meth users :( } I have really seen that the best ‘parents’ of my sweet perfect {lol} grandchildren are the ones that talk and actually spend time with their children. They are not on the cell phones texting or on facebook when their kids are at home. They truly take an interest in their days, and do the best they can to not ‘disappoint’ them by making idle promises that are not met. My children are the ages of 22 to 29. So they had their families young also. I think that parents today THINK that they know what the kids are doing, but … they really don’t. Today, life gets in the way of living. It is not much fun {lol} but people have got to take responsibility for the children they bear and not think the job is over when they are able to get things for themselves. The QUANTITY of time is not that important. It is the QUALITY of time that give them. The parenting job is not complete till you are dust in the ground. The children are being sent off to before school daycare … then school … then after school daycare … dance … karate or ball practice then getting a fast meal cause mom is busy just trying to get home to start on their second job. {laundry…baths…etc} I am not trying to put the blame on working parents, but sometimes you just have to STOP. Get back to the old school way and TALK and share a life with your kids. Then YOU will be raising them instead of all of the aforementioned, and YOU will be forming a relationship to where a sense of respect is being taught. I think that your child will not disresspect you enough to say ANY foul word in your presence. They will learn the words eventually as we all did, but maybe the positive attention that they are receiving from you will be the break in the viscous mold that is developing these children that will one day be running our nation.

    26. admin Says:

      Hi Rhonda-

      I agree with everything you have written.

    27. Beth Says:

      My kid has lots of issues since he has been adopted at age 11. He belongs to a pyscho/social group with other troubled kids to help work out problems. I sometime wonder if being around other kids like this is part of his problem. He used the F word on me today and we don’t use that word at home.

    28. Tina Says:

      Your points are valid regarding learning the words, but you didn’t address the fact that there are multiple, complex issues that can cause a child to keep using fowl language and/or use it excessively. I’ve noticed with my tween that when he consumes artificial dyes, he becomes very irritable and curses frequently for hours until it gets out of his system. It almost reminds of a form of Tourette’s, he seems like he literally cannot control it. When he was younger he used to get facial tics from artificial dyes. The tics are gone but now I think it’s changed over to this other type of reaction.

    29. admin Says:

      This is a good point. However, if he wasn’t constantly exposed to foul language, then it wouldn’t be in his vocabulary to use when he becomes irritable.

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