Today we are going to discuss what to do when your child uses foul language, bad language, or even curses you. Specifically, when you give a consequence, discipline or do something your child does not like, and they curse at you as a response.

You have to understand what your child is trying to achieve.

First of all you told them something he did not like. That means you are exerting your power and control over your child and his natural response is to:

(1) resent you and try to attack you, and

(2) try to show he has control over you in some aspect.

That is what the foul language, bad language, or cursing achieves.

It shows, first of all, that it expresses his anger in you. Second, he controls what comes out of his mouth and you don’t. It gives him an air of control where you have no control.

The way you handle this problem is to recognize what your child is trying to do and do not get sucked in. You do not get drawn into a battle. You do not respond at this point, and you do not let your child suck you into an argument or respond really in any way.

You want to maintain your dignity and control of the situation.

For example, let’s say your child comes home late and misses curfew, your consequence is for the next week, the next couple of days, or the next couple of times he has got to be home an hour earlier. He gets angry and curses at you. You say, “Nevertheless, for the next week, you have got to be home an hour early” and you walk away.

You do not get dragged into battle. You do not say, “How dare you curse at me.” You do not get involved in any way at all in what he said.

That does not mean you let it go. You can come back later at a different time and say, “You know you cursed at me yesterday, you cursed at me an hour ago, two hours ago. You are not allowed to do that and there is a consequence for that also” and then you give a consequence for cursing.

Do not let the cursing, the bad talk, the bad language, or the anger of your child get you off track. Your child’s goal is to exert his power, exert his control and to show you that he has something over you. Do not let him get away with it.

Stay in control, stay in focus, keep on topic, and at a later time when things are calm, go back and address the cursing or the bad language. Do not let it go. Do not say you are giving in. Don’t do anything other than stay on track now and make sure you address it later.

Please share this article.

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    Anthony Kane, MD
      P S Please leave a comment because I would really like to get your reaction to this.

        If you would like to have a quick step-by-step plan on how to end your child's difficult behavior forever and your child is between the ages of 2 and 11:

          Please go to:

          How to Improve Your Child's Behavior

          10 Responses to “Parenting a Defiant Child: Foul Language”

          1. Sharon Says:

            Your videos are helpful. I have a 14 year ADHD son who is difficult. I am a single mom with two other children. These hints are helpful. Thanks!

          2. DuQuoi Says:

            THANK YOU so much for putting the TEXT of the video. I do not learn well via video but the printed words are perfect. Thank you for the detailed example of how and what to say.

          3. Melissa Says:

            I have an eleven year old boy. This article described our situation. I knew I needed to NOT react to his mouth but was unsure how to still give the consequences. Your article helped confirm I was doing the right thing. I have been saying in the middle of his mouth spout, there will be consequences for those words too. The problem is giving the right consequences. He does it so often he ends up at the end the week with nothing. I am ok with that except he gets discouraged and wants to quit trying to behave. He has ADHD with a defident disorder. He is on intutiv 3 mg.

          4. Colleen Says:

            Been dealing with this a lot from my 14 year old daughter, yelling, swearing, name calling, and I have the same issue as Melissa. What to do when there’s nothing else to take away and the kid doesn’t care what I say? My daughter is also ADD and ODD, not currently on any meds, was taking Concerta but it didn’t help a bit. Right now she’s banned from using the laptop until her schoolwork improves, as she is getting all F’s, late to class, doesn’t participate. Banned from using her cell phone because of inappropriate use – during school, late at night on school nights, swearing and sex talk in texts. Yesterday she told me she’ll just use her friend’s computer when she’s at her house.

          5. Lynne Says:

            That is really helpful to understand what the child is really doing doing behind the cursing and helpful advise reminding one not to react or to get sucked in. Thank you.

          6. gemo Says:

            My wife is defient and loudmouth and often cursing and using foul language at me and the children. I confronted her and I said there is a consequence for that foul language, too. She blew off the top, of course, as expected. I divorced her. My wife and her language is no better, though, but my life is significantly better.

          7. Ayisha Says:

            This is an awesome video, like the rest of them, I have to admit you parenting advice is actually geared to strengthen parents as well. Seems to me, everyone falls desperately short of being as strong as we need to be (including myself) but I guess it’s all about discipline and having priorities. You definitely can’t be lazy about that if you’re a parent. In light of this, I think it’s a big mistake for so many people to be having more than one or two kids. Because with all the self improvement and extra development that’s needed to become an efficient parent, I know most people don’t have the right constitution to make it happen when over burdened with too many kids. It’s frightening really, because what it could result in is billions of people, brought up wrong, just to make even worse mistakes with their offspring, like something that could spiral out of control. Well, I’ve got to do what I can with my kids. Thanks Dr. Kane for the insight you’re sharing with everyone.

            You should go on tours if you can, I think it would help a lot of people.

            Have a wonderful day,


          8. admin Says:

            Hi Ayisha-

            Thanks for the comment. I agree with most of what your say except concerning the number of children.

            The more children you have, the easier it gets. I have eight children and my youngest is the hardest. However, because we have a lot of experience with the older ones we are struggling a lot less with him than we did with his older siblings.

          9. Nancy Says:

            What do I do if my 15 year old child is posting vulgar text onto his facebook account and will not remove the posts? Should there be a consequence? He explained that that’s who he is (with a slight edge in his voice/seemed like he was ready to cry), it’s his life and it makes people laugh. This is completely new behavior to me. We discussed the nature of the language, possible followup down the road with jobs/opportunities, and why I care about his behavior.

          10. michelle Says:

            This is certainly helpful info that I am going to seriously consider. What I would also want to know is what if your 14 year old ADHD son just curses all the time? He’s very negative about many things, often unimportant really (such as a random statistic about a baseball team) and uses curse words throughout his speech. I wasn’t ever allowed to curse growing up and my husband and I have made a point to cuss very little (if at all) in front of our kids (their whole lives). I tell him how he sounds & why I feel this is inappropriate and really unnecessary but he just doesn’t change. I’ve been giving up as it is becoming so routine. I’m becoming immune but I still don’t like it.

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