Your 5-year-old son got angry recently and let out a string of curse words.
You had no idea that he knew words like that and have no idea where he heard them.
What do you do?
(A): Send him to his room. After a few minutes, go talk to him and tell him that you will not accept that kind of language. Make him repeat what you told him to make sure he understands.
(B): Find out where he heard the words and make sure that he doesn't spend time there anymore.
(C): Tell him not to say those words because they are not nice.
(D): Wash his mouth out with soap.
If you answered:
(A): This is a good response. You should make sure he knows that he has done something wrong and that he understands why it is wrong. There is no need to use any more discipline than this unless his cursing continues.
(B): You might never find out where he heard the curse words and if you do find out, it may be someplace you really can't keep him away from. It is better for him to learn that cursing is not acceptable. See Choice A.
(C): This doesn't sound like you really mean it. See Choice A.
(D) This might be what your grandmother would have done, but there are better ways to handle the situation. See Choice A.
Dr. Proefrock is a local clinical psychologist specializing in children, adolescents and families.
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