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How to Get a Teen to Stop Cussing

by Tiffany Raiford, studioD

Your teenager has left behind childhood and is preparing to enter adulthood, and with that comes a mishmash of behavior. Your teen might decide she’s old enough to stay out later and lobby for a later curfew, or she might decide she wants to redecorate her room to make it more mature and less childish. She might also decide she’s old enough to swear. As her parent, it's your job to help your child learn appropriate language.

Create a list of consequences that go along with swearing. This simple approach, according to the David O. McKay School of Education at Brigham Young University, will help your teen learn the fundamental rules regarding cursing. Create a simple list of consequences such as the loss of their computer, Internet privileges, driving privileges or cellphone. Whenever you hear your teen use a word that you consider inappropriate, enforce the consequences.

Put two vases or jars on the kitchen counter and label them the swear jar and the no-swear jar. Anytime anyone in the house -- not just your teen -- says a curse word, that person must place a dollar in the swear jar. Additionally, on days your teen does not use foul language, you put a dollar in the no-swear jar. At the end of each month or year, donate the money in the swear jar to a charity or family in need and use the money in the no swear jar to do something fun for or with your teen. Most teens won’t want to lose their money, so they are more likely to keep their swearing to a minimum.

Use your teen’s intellect to get her to stop cursing, according to Dr. Foster W. Cline, child psychiatrist, author and co-founder of the Love and Logic Institute. Sometimes all it takes to get your teen to stop using foul language is to appeal to her intellect by explaining that people who use such foul language do so because their intellect is not up to par and they resort to that form of language because they don't have the vocabulary to use more appropriate language. This works because most teens don’t want others to view them as stupid or unintelligent.

Help your teen set realistic goals. Have a conversation with him about his language and its inappropriateness. By explaining to him that cursing is both unattractive and unintelligent, you might be able to help him decide to quit. The trick is to help him quit cussing by setting realistic goals, such as making it his goal to avoid bad language for the entire day. He’s more likely to achieve his goal of using only appropriate behavior if he can meet small goals each day, according to the David O. McKay School of Education at Brigham Young University.

Talk to your teen about the underlying issues behind her swearing. According to the Women and Children’s Health Network, teens are a lot like adults in that they often swear because they are angry or upset. If your teen has a problem with swearing, you should talk to her and find out what is causing her anger and/or upset. By helping her solve the root of the problem, you can likely help her stop swearing.

Items you will need
  •  2 jars


  • Your teen's cussing probably won't stop overnight, so keep your own expectations realistic to prevent becoming angry or upset.

About the Author

Tiffany Raiford has several years of experience writing freelance. Her writing focuses primarily on articles relating to parenting, pregnancy and travel. Raiford is a graduate of Saint Petersburg College in Florida.

Photo Credits

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