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How To Teach Kids Not To Say Bad Words

Questioner

Anonymous

Reply Date

Jun 14, 2019

Question

Salam Aleikom sister. How can I teach my 7 years old boy that swearing is inappropriate? He attends public school and has learned many bad words which he tends to use in public. I feel so ashamed. I explained to him many times that these words are wrong, only bad people use it. But he continues using them. Any advice?

Counselor

Answer


How To Teach Kids Not To Say Bad Words

In this counseling answer:

•I would kindly suggest that you sit with him and ask him if he knows swearing is bad (yes), does he know he is forbidden to swear (yes).

•I would further explain that as he knows it is bad and he knows it is forbidden, you will give him a consequence for every swear word.

•You can tell him you will take x amount from his money for every swear word. If he collects marbles or a certain toy, you will take one toy/marble for each time he swears. If playing games or watching TV is his thing, you can cut his playing time per swear word


As-Salamu ‘Alaykum sister,

Thank you for writing to us with your most important concern. Often times as children are exposed to different lifestyles and settings when they get older, they may pick up bad behaviors or habits. Hopefully, your son is just experimenting and it has not become a habit yet. I know of some people who used to swear all the time and wished they could stop.  They said it took much effort and conscious thinking on their part to cut out the bad habit.

In sha ‘Allah, your son is just experimenting. As he is seven years old, he has found something that gets him attention! While it is not good attention, it is attention nonetheless. When our children use bad words, we as parents can’t help but be shocked and react.

However, I would kindly suggest that you sit with him and ask him if he knows swearing is bad (yes), does he know he is forbidden to swear (yes). I would further explain that as he knows it is bad and he knows it is forbidden, you will give him a consequence for every swear word. Here is where you can be creative.

If he has any monies from chores, allowance etc., you can tell him you will take x amount from his money for every swear word. If he collects marbles or a certain toy, you will take one toy/marble for each time he swears. If playing games or watching TV is his thing, you can cut his playing time per swear word. In sha’ Allah, he will soon learn that your main reaction will be a loss of something he enjoys.


Check out this counseling video


You may wish to keep a jar and put in a fold little paper for each time he swears to keep count as well as to show him a visual of all his swear words. You can also keep count on a chalkboard or other methods if you chose. By visualizing the number of times he swears and loses things, you can also show him how his swearing is decreasing (insha’Allah) and give him a reward when the number reaches a certain number. Of course, the goal is for him to stop swearing and in sha’ Allah by negative losses every time he swears as well as reducing the attention he receives it will pass.

You may also want to read him (age appropriate) stories about our beloved Prophet Mohammad (saw) and how joyful and loving his character was, to show as an example of how he might want to be and why.

With patience and persistence, sister, soon your son will outgrow this bad language. At this age, it may be just an attention seeking behavior or he might just be testing his boundaries. Either way, I kindly suggest that you address his “potty” mouth with negative consequences while rewarding him with positive attention for stopping/decreasing his swear.

Your issue, dear sister, is a common one but can be resolved, in sha’ Allah.

We wish you the best!

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Aisha Mohammad

Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word poetry projects.

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