The cure for bad language?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  March 3, 2010 06:00 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article


Barbara, Is putting a dab of hot sauce on the tongue considered inappropriate consequence for bad language or sticking the tongue out after the "two warning/time out" technique has faltered?

From: A Mom, Ohio

 

Dear a mom,

You know, I started to toss out your question, as in not post it, because you neglected to say how old your child is.  But the truth is that that kind of consequence feels abusive to me and I would say that it's inappropriate at any age. I know there are those who will disagree with me (and I'm hoping we'll hear from some of you), but I would prefer to see a consequence that relates behaviorally to the behavior: There's nothing that upsets a kid more than a parent who doesn't respond. So if you tell him, "If you can't speak to me in a respectful way, then I can't answer you." If he's under 11 or so, I'd ask him to make a list (or make it together) of language you consider disrespectful & body language, too. (You may not like the idea of actually listing the words, in which case you can use code, as in "the f word," "the b-word,"  "the s-words" (stupid was always high on my list) etc. Once you are sure he knows what the violations will be, when he uses one of the words, you very pointedly zip your lips and turn your back on him, or simply ignore him. Again, this depends on his age, but in my experience, this works at any stage of development because children want our responses and reactions when they want them.

What are some other parents' ideas for this?

I answer a question from a reader every weekday. If you want help with some aspect of child-rearing, just write to me here.




This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

35 comments so far...
  1. Hot sauce on the tongue? Sounds like something one kid would do to another on the playground. It also sounds like lazy parenting for those who don't want to bother actually acting like an adult and deal with the issue. There are so many other ways to deal with such a simple problem - it blows my mind that someone would have to stoop to this level. Taking away privileges as a consequence (DS, TV, Dessert, etc - whatever your kid loves) seems to work fine. The key is follow through and no empty threats.

    Posted by Dad March 3, 10 07:45 AM

  1. I used a little dab of hand soap once on my 4yr olds tongue when he wouldn't stop spitting at me. He stopped spitting immediatly.

    He is 9 yrs old now and we laugh about it often - especially when he says a bad word and I pretend to go for the soap. Or, if we hear another kid using foul language I'll whisper to him that "that kid could use some soap to clean up his mouth". He gets a kick out of it and definatly got the point.

    Posted by fourofus March 3, 10 10:12 AM
  1. What Dad said. It sounds to me like the kid never gets consequences for his or her actions, and so has no incentive to follow the rules.

    Sit down with the kid and make it clear that from this moment forward, action X will result in consequence Y, no warnings, no second chances. Then follow through. Also, try to 'catch them being good' - comment when they make it through a day (hour/morning/week, whatever) without misbehaving, or when they clearly choose not to misbehave when the temptation is strong, and let them know you appreciate them making the effort to be good.

    Posted by akmom March 3, 10 10:26 AM
  1. For her "potty talk" phase (granted this was a young child, preschooler) we stuck with "those words are for the bathroom, do you need to go sit in the bathroom?" and somehow that worked. Which was weird, now that I think about it, because she was never phased by time outs, at all, ever, in other parts of the house! And never had any issues with toilet training. Go figure.

    Posted by 12buckleshoe March 3, 10 11:02 AM
  1. I guess my first question is "Do you use bad language around your child?"

    If so, you can't expect them to not use that same language too.

    Growing up, my poor Mom faced an uphill battle trying to teach us not to swear, she'd tell us how bad it was, then my Dad would swear up a storm and next thing you know we would be doing it too.

    Posted by JT March 3, 10 11:09 AM
  1. Hot sauce on the tongue?! What is this, the dark ages? Perhaps you'll take your child over your knee and whip them with a belt next.

    I think it's important to differentiate between cursing situations. For example, did your child hurt his foot and yell an expletive, or did he specifically curse YOU?

    I would never punish a child for cursing "properly" and appropriately, but would just say mildly, "watch your language". A child cursing AT me receives a time-out. In other words, if I am likely to curse under similar circumstances, no punishment is warranted. If I'm not (I wouldn't curse at my boss, for example), one likely is.

    They're just words. Remember that. The F-bomb is only as meaningful as you allow it to be.

    Posted by redpanda March 3, 10 11:29 AM
  1. I really hate to give inappropriate language cache by making it off-limits. As a result, I do not forbid it. We do have some rules about it though, implemented when my kids were 2 & 4:

    1.) You can say ANYTHING you want, so long as you confine socially unacceptable language to our bathroom at home. (At home is key, or you will be surprised what your toddler will say in a public restroom.)

    2.) Rules about language have to do with making other people feel comfortable. We try to avoid use of certain language because it may make our friends & loved ones feel uncomfortable and unhappy. We try to treat them in a consistently loving mannner.

    3.) Relying on crude language for shock value shows a lack of imagination. If you want to say something, say it creatively.

    Funny to see this today, after reading this weekend about the parenting techniques advocated by a Rev. Pearl. Rev. Pearl and his wife advocate hot sauce on the tongue as well as switching, lashings, etc. The Pearls run a thriving business selling books outlining their parenting techniques, which were used by a woman currently being prosecuted for killing her own child. (This was on the blog Gods Own Party.)

    Posted by HollyP March 3, 10 11:53 AM
  1. Hot sauce on the tongue sounds like dinner at our house, not a punishment.

    Exactly what or how does it teach anything?

    Posted by C March 3, 10 11:53 AM
  1. My mom did the hot sauce on the tongue trick. It worked like a charm on most of us but she eventually got hers when it turned out my brother LIKED hot sauce.

    Posted by anita March 3, 10 11:55 AM
  1. Hot sauce? Abuse! Where will it lead to, as well?

    The parents should take a big gulp of hot sauce before they even think of using on their precious little child. What century did they emerge from in their time machine, anyway? The mid-19th?

    Posted by reindeergirl March 3, 10 12:04 PM
  1. Well, hot sauce wouldn't work as a punishment in our house - we buy Cholula and Tabasco by the case...

    But I am wrestling with this dilemma right now. Our 3rd grader was called a racial epithet at school. Someone heard the other kids saying it and they got in trouble (my son wouldn't have mentioned it at all otherwise). Now my son was pulled into the principal's office today because he was asking other kids on the bus what the word meant. On the one hand, I agree - that word does not need to be said, ever, and he knows this, and will be disciplined accordingly. On the other hand, he has never heard this word from us, or from anythign we have listened to while we are together. He has only ever heard it at school. So do I punish him for curiosity? Will punishing him for using this language make it even more powerful in his mind? I don't have an answer for this one. Does intent matter? It's enough to make me start uttering four letter words...

    Posted by bms March 3, 10 12:47 PM
  1. LOL anita the same thing happened to my husband when he tried the hot sauce punishment on one of our boys. That child puts hot sauce on everything and snacks on lemon slices.

    HollyP, I like your approach. My aunt used to use the term "vulgar" when coaching her children regarding language and I really liked the message it sent. Instead of setting up a scenario where the "bad" words become forbidden fruit (and constantly having to update the list of banned words) it frames the issue as one of respect for others, manners, intelligence, and context (e.g. to say "she sucks on a lollipop" is not the same as saying "that sucks").

    Posted by Jen March 3, 10 12:59 PM
  1. I wouldn't call it abuse..i think that is a little far reaching.... unless of course your pouring it down the child's throat. But yes there are far better approaches to it. I do agree with DAD on the matter.

    Posted by jd March 3, 10 01:03 PM
  1. Geez, not too judgmental are we? A DAB of hot sauce on the tongue hardly constitutes abuse. I don't agree with it, but abuse? Really....
    I think it is just a matter of being consistent with the message that that language is inappropriate-over and over and over and over and over... Just like many of the other lesson we try to teach our kids.
    For this issue we remind them that the language is inappropriate, use time out and, like 12buckleshoe, if you use bathroom words at our house, you are asked if you need to go into the bathroom.

    Posted by geelee March 3, 10 01:53 PM
  1. bms, I think intent matters greatly. If your son is asking what it means, by all means tell him. And explain the context, and why some people find it an offensive term.

    When I was little I knew that sh*t was a bad word. My parents never said it. But one day I discovered that it was okay to us if you put the word "bull' in front of it, after my parents' friend used the term in polite conversation. Thank goodness my parents didn't use hot sauce or soap or spankings to teach me that kids should take all adults as role models.

    Posted by HollyP March 3, 10 01:59 PM
  1. If you have to ask if putting hot sauce on your child's tongue is inappropriate, it probably is. Listen to your mother's intuition - it's there.

    Posted by Val March 3, 10 02:15 PM
  1. I grew up in a physically, verbally and sexually abusive household...and hot tobasco sauce was put on my tongue after a said the "sh$t" word at the age of 6. So this is what abusive parents do. Please DO NOT do this to your child. Figure something better out.

    Posted by Amy Burke March 3, 10 03:18 PM
  1. Tabasco and Cholua are pretty much catsup. If you really want to try something hot, get a bottle of Mad Dog Inferno Hot Sauce. Now that stuff is hot!

    Posted by Bart Samuelson March 3, 10 04:20 PM
  1. Since my kids earned a small allowance, and since that money was precious to them, (especially my 'entrepreneur' child), we had the swear jar, for the entire family! I think mom and dad put most of the money in it and the kids became the enforcers. ;) It worked!

    Posted by Mom March 3, 10 04:39 PM
  1. ok...hot sauce as ABUSE??? really people? All I can say is that a parent needs to do what works for his/her child. Of course I am not advocating hurting a child. However all of you that state you should just "talk it out", sometimes talking about things and making things off limits are not enough. Some children need a more concrete way of learning that things are wrong.
    You are their parent, NOT their friend. Talking it out sometimes does not work. If a time out hasn't worked then talking it out or ignoring it isn't going to work. CHildren need boundaries.

    Posted by Becca March 3, 10 07:04 PM
  1. The swear jar also works on FIL's with potty mouths. I even count friggin' as a swear word when around my small children, though it costs less than the full on curse. He still swears...just not around my children.

    Posted by QMLB March 3, 10 07:17 PM
  1. You know not everyone had the excellent parenting role models that some of you clearly had. Give this poor mom a break. She asked for help not judgement.

    I think some of you have provided some suitable alternatives that will hopefully work with her child.

    FWIW, I did have good parenting role models, but I still need help sometimes. I hear complaints about bad parenting all the time, and yet, when someone asks for help, they get judged and shot down. Sheeesh!

    Posted by Momof2 March 3, 10 07:33 PM
  1. I use incredibly bad language around my 4 kids (aged 4 to 12). You name, I've said it. My husband is just as bad (for the record we are both highly educated professionals, but we swear like sailors).

    My son wanted me to list all the bad words, so I named them one at a time.

    I hear the occasional slip, but they know they can say whatever they want when they turn 18. Until then, those are only words to be used by adults. There is no allure to these special bad words that you can't say. They know them all and have heard them all.

    I never understood the hang up on bad words. Ever hear a group of middle-school and high schoolers at the mall, every other word is a swear word.

    Posted by Deb R. March 3, 10 10:10 PM
  1. Oh and I agree hot sauce on the tongue is abusive. I wouldn't mention that in front of a mandated reporter or you might have DCF knocking on your door.

    Posted by Deb R. March 3, 10 10:11 PM
  1. Like HollyP. I always found it counterproductive to make a big deal about language. When my boys were small, I told them, calmly, that THAT word was not something I wanted to hear, and to please stop. My husband swore, and they knew I didn't like it from him either. As they got older, my motto was "It's not what comes out of your mouth, but whose ears it goes into." I really never cared how they talked around their friends, out of my or other elders and adults hearing. At 30, and in the Army, I have yet to hear a swear out of my oldest son, and my younger one used to (and still does) chastise his friends if they used foul language around children. As far as 'stupid' went...they were allowed to use it, as long as they were not referring to a person. We had very unintelligent bikes at our house :).

    Posted by Robin March 4, 10 05:53 AM
  1. fourofus brought back memories. It's not a "one thing fixes all" situation. In parenting respect and consistency are the key and goes two ways. That said, my mom was an excellent parent who provided both for six of us. She also lived in reality and one day when my brother talked back to her she had enough. When she said she would wash his mouth out with soap, she meant it. It only had to happen once, was effective not only for my siblings, but the story was enough to warn my own 2 when they we testing language. We still tease my brother and mom about it. I agree that a respect for language is a lesson we are responsible to teach our kids. Where, when and how it is used appropriately, no matter your age!

    Posted by sixofus March 4, 10 08:48 AM
  1. Many adults don't like hot sauce, but it is delicious and by using it as punishment you are in all likelihood taking away any chance that your child will grow to enjoy it later in life. That would be the real shame in my opinion.

    Posted by geocool March 4, 10 11:18 AM
  1. There's no one answer. No one knows your child better than you. YOU hate swearing. Your child hates _____. (Fill in the blank.) If s/he swears, you institute ______. Bottom line, though, they're only words, and most of them, short of the F-Bomb, can be heard on TV. Coarse language is EVERYWHERE in modern day America. Until the teen years, you can try to control it with punishment, but from then on you have to hope you have instilled in your child enough self respect that they will refrain from using such language in venues where they will lose status, respect, influence, etc. for using bad language. I agree with the people who have advised to ignore, cut off, or otherwise "avoid" the child: that's what's going to happen when they are older. Of course, a toddler isn't going to understand this "punishment", so you'll have to do something more concrete and understandable, i.e., whatever they "hate". Good luck!

    Posted by Easydoesit2 March 4, 10 03:00 PM
  1. When my daughter was three we came to a red light. Being one to swear a great deal (especially during Red Sox games), I started to swear then tempered my response to, “oh no, not another red light.” My daughter responded, “it’s a d**n f**king light, Mommy.” I didn’t get excited, I didn’t blow up, I didn’t try to reason logically with her (she was three. Its stupid. I’m the adult, what I say goes. Period, end of story), all I did was say, “hey, little girls should not say things like that.” She said, “OK” and never swore again until she was 16 and asked me if it would be OK for her to say the occasional swear while on the phone with her friends. I said as long as she kept it in her room and didn’t swear in public, I was OK with that.

    My advice? Simple: 1. State desired behavior. 2. State the consequences for failure to meet the desired behavior. 3. Follow through.

    You don’t have to be a mean person to do it, but you must remember: you are not your child’s best friend. You are the parent, and the adult, and adults and children are different. You are in charge. What you say goes. If you have the “he’s only two, he’ll grow out of it” attitude, you are in for a teenager you will not be able to control.
    ray

    Posted by Anonymous March 4, 10 04:16 PM
  1. Seems as though most posters have a healthy idea of when swearing is appropriate and when not. For my own kids, they are warned not to get in the habit of swearing b/c it is generally socially unacceptable (school, restaurant, stores). But swearing on its own isn't portrayed as evil, just not very creative. And because of that, there are no punishments for swearing--just reminders to have a care at home.
    Punishment should be reserved for use at school or daycare only. And that should be based on what works for your child. But I do think use of the term "abusive" is going way overboard.

    Posted by Anonymous March 4, 10 04:41 PM
  1. I think that some people in this are the cause of what is wrong with society today, as well as the number of ill behaved children now in society. I would first like to say that when necessary my wife and have started to use hot sauce on our 4 year olds tongue(just a dab on my finger to his tongue), and it has worked well. As for the parents that are screaming abuse, I also spank my child who is now well behaved. I think that a look back in time will answer all of the parenting problems, not going to go as far as children only speak when spoken to, but even with that extreme children listened, and were well behaved. Corporal punishment or the lack of it, in my opinion, is one of the problems with this society today, if people, esp. children do not live in fear of the consequences of their actions they will not think twice about bad behavior.

    Posted by Keith July 14, 10 07:01 PM
  1. My 4 yr.old grandson swears when he gets frustrated, mostly when he feels ignored. Now all of us in the family know where and who he has learned this launguage from, his dad, my son. Long story short...I tell my son every time his son swears I should wash his mouth out with soap or put him in time out!
    Daddy is working on cutting out his favorite, adult only words (even when he's not around the kids) and it seems to be working as his 4yr.old's use of those adult only words he had adopted from his hero have almost vanished.
    Good "clean up" son.

    Posted by sharon October 20, 10 05:38 PM
  1. In response to #6, you're right it's not the Dark Ages, it's REAL life! No I wouldn't whip my child w/ a belt as was done to me when a child. Which is why I DO put a drop of Tabasco on his lip! But you believe it's ok for a child to "properly curse"?
    Before anyone becomes liberally exaggerated, my son doesn't get a bottle of hot sauce dumped down his through; he gets one drop on his lip.
    He also has to do push ups, I suppose an exercise that makes him stronger is also bad right? So my son will be strong, he will not care for hot sauce on his food. But, he will not become an adult who knows no consequences in life, he will not become a liberally raised child who in older life wonders why he is not simply required to stand in a corner in 'time out' for his behavior as an adult. I'm ok knowing at age 13 my son knows there is a thing called reality, and he's well adapted into it now and doesn't have to learn lessons the hard way later in life when, the real world is not so easy on him.

    Posted by Efinn October 31, 10 04:16 PM
  1. Hot Sauce is not only lazy, it's abuse, shame on you

    Posted by Chad November 23, 10 12:38 PM
  1. hot sauce is a daily dosage at my house. WE always drink it right out of the bottle. Do i agree that cussing is bad yes. Do i agree it should be used, on occations. Honestly no parent in my oppinion can say that they have never said 1 vulgar word towards somebody, or after dropping a hammer on your toe 4 example. I am a parent myself but you have to take into consideration we were kids at one time too. Every once in awhile ya it will slip, but if it is a regular routine of swearing then yes i agree something should be done

    Posted by bid d March 28, 11 03:43 PM
 
35 comments so far...
  1. Hot sauce on the tongue? Sounds like something one kid would do to another on the playground. It also sounds like lazy parenting for those who don't want to bother actually acting like an adult and deal with the issue. There are so many other ways to deal with such a simple problem - it blows my mind that someone would have to stoop to this level. Taking away privileges as a consequence (DS, TV, Dessert, etc - whatever your kid loves) seems to work fine. The key is follow through and no empty threats.

    Posted by Dad March 3, 10 07:45 AM

  1. I used a little dab of hand soap once on my 4yr olds tongue when he wouldn't stop spitting at me. He stopped spitting immediatly.

    He is 9 yrs old now and we laugh about it often - especially when he says a bad word and I pretend to go for the soap. Or, if we hear another kid using foul language I'll whisper to him that "that kid could use some soap to clean up his mouth". He gets a kick out of it and definatly got the point.

    Posted by fourofus March 3, 10 10:12 AM
  1. What Dad said. It sounds to me like the kid never gets consequences for his or her actions, and so has no incentive to follow the rules.

    Sit down with the kid and make it clear that from this moment forward, action X will result in consequence Y, no warnings, no second chances. Then follow through. Also, try to 'catch them being good' - comment when they make it through a day (hour/morning/week, whatever) without misbehaving, or when they clearly choose not to misbehave when the temptation is strong, and let them know you appreciate them making the effort to be good.

    Posted by akmom March 3, 10 10:26 AM
  1. For her "potty talk" phase (granted this was a young child, preschooler) we stuck with "those words are for the bathroom, do you need to go sit in the bathroom?" and somehow that worked. Which was weird, now that I think about it, because she was never phased by time outs, at all, ever, in other parts of the house! And never had any issues with toilet training. Go figure.

    Posted by 12buckleshoe March 3, 10 11:02 AM
  1. I guess my first question is "Do you use bad language around your child?"

    If so, you can't expect them to not use that same language too.

    Growing up, my poor Mom faced an uphill battle trying to teach us not to swear, she'd tell us how bad it was, then my Dad would swear up a storm and next thing you know we would be doing it too.

    Posted by JT March 3, 10 11:09 AM
  1. Hot sauce on the tongue?! What is this, the dark ages? Perhaps you'll take your child over your knee and whip them with a belt next.

    I think it's important to differentiate between cursing situations. For example, did your child hurt his foot and yell an expletive, or did he specifically curse YOU?

    I would never punish a child for cursing "properly" and appropriately, but would just say mildly, "watch your language". A child cursing AT me receives a time-out. In other words, if I am likely to curse under similar circumstances, no punishment is warranted. If I'm not (I wouldn't curse at my boss, for example), one likely is.

    They're just words. Remember that. The F-bomb is only as meaningful as you allow it to be.

    Posted by redpanda March 3, 10 11:29 AM
  1. I really hate to give inappropriate language cache by making it off-limits. As a result, I do not forbid it. We do have some rules about it though, implemented when my kids were 2 & 4:

    1.) You can say ANYTHING you want, so long as you confine socially unacceptable language to our bathroom at home. (At home is key, or you will be surprised what your toddler will say in a public restroom.)

    2.) Rules about language have to do with making other people feel comfortable. We try to avoid use of certain language because it may make our friends & loved ones feel uncomfortable and unhappy. We try to treat them in a consistently loving mannner.

    3.) Relying on crude language for shock value shows a lack of imagination. If you want to say something, say it creatively.

    Funny to see this today, after reading this weekend about the parenting techniques advocated by a Rev. Pearl. Rev. Pearl and his wife advocate hot sauce on the tongue as well as switching, lashings, etc. The Pearls run a thriving business selling books outlining their parenting techniques, which were used by a woman currently being prosecuted for killing her own child. (This was on the blog Gods Own Party.)

    Posted by HollyP March 3, 10 11:53 AM
  1. Hot sauce on the tongue sounds like dinner at our house, not a punishment.

    Exactly what or how does it teach anything?

    Posted by C March 3, 10 11:53 AM
  1. My mom did the hot sauce on the tongue trick. It worked like a charm on most of us but she eventually got hers when it turned out my brother LIKED hot sauce.

    Posted by anita March 3, 10 11:55 AM
  1. Hot sauce? Abuse! Where will it lead to, as well?

    The parents should take a big gulp of hot sauce before they even think of using on their precious little child. What century did they emerge from in their time machine, anyway? The mid-19th?

    Posted by reindeergirl March 3, 10 12:04 PM
  1. Well, hot sauce wouldn't work as a punishment in our house - we buy Cholula and Tabasco by the case...

    But I am wrestling with this dilemma right now. Our 3rd grader was called a racial epithet at school. Someone heard the other kids saying it and they got in trouble (my son wouldn't have mentioned it at all otherwise). Now my son was pulled into the principal's office today because he was asking other kids on the bus what the word meant. On the one hand, I agree - that word does not need to be said, ever, and he knows this, and will be disciplined accordingly. On the other hand, he has never heard this word from us, or from anythign we have listened to while we are together. He has only ever heard it at school. So do I punish him for curiosity? Will punishing him for using this language make it even more powerful in his mind? I don't have an answer for this one. Does intent matter? It's enough to make me start uttering four letter words...

    Posted by bms March 3, 10 12:47 PM
  1. LOL anita the same thing happened to my husband when he tried the hot sauce punishment on one of our boys. That child puts hot sauce on everything and snacks on lemon slices.

    HollyP, I like your approach. My aunt used to use the term "vulgar" when coaching her children regarding language and I really liked the message it sent. Instead of setting up a scenario where the "bad" words become forbidden fruit (and constantly having to update the list of banned words) it frames the issue as one of respect for others, manners, intelligence, and context (e.g. to say "she sucks on a lollipop" is not the same as saying "that sucks").

    Posted by Jen March 3, 10 12:59 PM
  1. I wouldn't call it abuse..i think that is a little far reaching.... unless of course your pouring it down the child's throat. But yes there are far better approaches to it. I do agree with DAD on the matter.

    Posted by jd March 3, 10 01:03 PM
  1. Geez, not too judgmental are we? A DAB of hot sauce on the tongue hardly constitutes abuse. I don't agree with it, but abuse? Really....
    I think it is just a matter of being consistent with the message that that language is inappropriate-over and over and over and over and over... Just like many of the other lesson we try to teach our kids.
    For this issue we remind them that the language is inappropriate, use time out and, like 12buckleshoe, if you use bathroom words at our house, you are asked if you need to go into the bathroom.

    Posted by geelee March 3, 10 01:53 PM
  1. bms, I think intent matters greatly. If your son is asking what it means, by all means tell him. And explain the context, and why some people find it an offensive term.

    When I was little I knew that sh*t was a bad word. My parents never said it. But one day I discovered that it was okay to us if you put the word "bull' in front of it, after my parents' friend used the term in polite conversation. Thank goodness my parents didn't use hot sauce or soap or spankings to teach me that kids should take all adults as role models.

    Posted by HollyP March 3, 10 01:59 PM
  1. If you have to ask if putting hot sauce on your child's tongue is inappropriate, it probably is. Listen to your mother's intuition - it's there.

    Posted by Val March 3, 10 02:15 PM
  1. I grew up in a physically, verbally and sexually abusive household...and hot tobasco sauce was put on my tongue after a said the "sh$t" word at the age of 6. So this is what abusive parents do. Please DO NOT do this to your child. Figure something better out.

    Posted by Amy Burke March 3, 10 03:18 PM
  1. Tabasco and Cholua are pretty much catsup. If you really want to try something hot, get a bottle of Mad Dog Inferno Hot Sauce. Now that stuff is hot!

    Posted by Bart Samuelson March 3, 10 04:20 PM
  1. Since my kids earned a small allowance, and since that money was precious to them, (especially my 'entrepreneur' child), we had the swear jar, for the entire family! I think mom and dad put most of the money in it and the kids became the enforcers. ;) It worked!

    Posted by Mom March 3, 10 04:39 PM
  1. ok...hot sauce as ABUSE??? really people? All I can say is that a parent needs to do what works for his/her child. Of course I am not advocating hurting a child. However all of you that state you should just "talk it out", sometimes talking about things and making things off limits are not enough. Some children need a more concrete way of learning that things are wrong.
    You are their parent, NOT their friend. Talking it out sometimes does not work. If a time out hasn't worked then talking it out or ignoring it isn't going to work. CHildren need boundaries.

    Posted by Becca March 3, 10 07:04 PM
  1. The swear jar also works on FIL's with potty mouths. I even count friggin' as a swear word when around my small children, though it costs less than the full on curse. He still swears...just not around my children.

    Posted by QMLB March 3, 10 07:17 PM
  1. You know not everyone had the excellent parenting role models that some of you clearly had. Give this poor mom a break. She asked for help not judgement.

    I think some of you have provided some suitable alternatives that will hopefully work with her child.

    FWIW, I did have good parenting role models, but I still need help sometimes. I hear complaints about bad parenting all the time, and yet, when someone asks for help, they get judged and shot down. Sheeesh!

    Posted by Momof2 March 3, 10 07:33 PM
  1. I use incredibly bad language around my 4 kids (aged 4 to 12). You name, I've said it. My husband is just as bad (for the record we are both highly educated professionals, but we swear like sailors).

    My son wanted me to list all the bad words, so I named them one at a time.

    I hear the occasional slip, but they know they can say whatever they want when they turn 18. Until then, those are only words to be used by adults. There is no allure to these special bad words that you can't say. They know them all and have heard them all.

    I never understood the hang up on bad words. Ever hear a group of middle-school and high schoolers at the mall, every other word is a swear word.

    Posted by Deb R. March 3, 10 10:10 PM
  1. Oh and I agree hot sauce on the tongue is abusive. I wouldn't mention that in front of a mandated reporter or you might have DCF knocking on your door.

    Posted by Deb R. March 3, 10 10:11 PM
  1. Like HollyP. I always found it counterproductive to make a big deal about language. When my boys were small, I told them, calmly, that THAT word was not something I wanted to hear, and to please stop. My husband swore, and they knew I didn't like it from him either. As they got older, my motto was "It's not what comes out of your mouth, but whose ears it goes into." I really never cared how they talked around their friends, out of my or other elders and adults hearing. At 30, and in the Army, I have yet to hear a swear out of my oldest son, and my younger one used to (and still does) chastise his friends if they used foul language around children. As far as 'stupid' went...they were allowed to use it, as long as they were not referring to a person. We had very unintelligent bikes at our house :).

    Posted by Robin March 4, 10 05:53 AM
  1. fourofus brought back memories. It's not a "one thing fixes all" situation. In parenting respect and consistency are the key and goes two ways. That said, my mom was an excellent parent who provided both for six of us. She also lived in reality and one day when my brother talked back to her she had enough. When she said she would wash his mouth out with soap, she meant it. It only had to happen once, was effective not only for my siblings, but the story was enough to warn my own 2 when they we testing language. We still tease my brother and mom about it. I agree that a respect for language is a lesson we are responsible to teach our kids. Where, when and how it is used appropriately, no matter your age!

    Posted by sixofus March 4, 10 08:48 AM
  1. Many adults don't like hot sauce, but it is delicious and by using it as punishment you are in all likelihood taking away any chance that your child will grow to enjoy it later in life. That would be the real shame in my opinion.

    Posted by geocool March 4, 10 11:18 AM
  1. There's no one answer. No one knows your child better than you. YOU hate swearing. Your child hates _____. (Fill in the blank.) If s/he swears, you institute ______. Bottom line, though, they're only words, and most of them, short of the F-Bomb, can be heard on TV. Coarse language is EVERYWHERE in modern day America. Until the teen years, you can try to control it with punishment, but from then on you have to hope you have instilled in your child enough self respect that they will refrain from using such language in venues where they will lose status, respect, influence, etc. for using bad language. I agree with the people who have advised to ignore, cut off, or otherwise "avoid" the child: that's what's going to happen when they are older. Of course, a toddler isn't going to understand this "punishment", so you'll have to do something more concrete and understandable, i.e., whatever they "hate". Good luck!

    Posted by Easydoesit2 March 4, 10 03:00 PM
  1. When my daughter was three we came to a red light. Being one to swear a great deal (especially during Red Sox games), I started to swear then tempered my response to, “oh no, not another red light.” My daughter responded, “it’s a d**n f**king light, Mommy.” I didn’t get excited, I didn’t blow up, I didn’t try to reason logically with her (she was three. Its stupid. I’m the adult, what I say goes. Period, end of story), all I did was say, “hey, little girls should not say things like that.” She said, “OK” and never swore again until she was 16 and asked me if it would be OK for her to say the occasional swear while on the phone with her friends. I said as long as she kept it in her room and didn’t swear in public, I was OK with that.

    My advice? Simple: 1. State desired behavior. 2. State the consequences for failure to meet the desired behavior. 3. Follow through.

    You don’t have to be a mean person to do it, but you must remember: you are not your child’s best friend. You are the parent, and the adult, and adults and children are different. You are in charge. What you say goes. If you have the “he’s only two, he’ll grow out of it” attitude, you are in for a teenager you will not be able to control.
    ray

    Posted by Anonymous March 4, 10 04:16 PM
  1. Seems as though most posters have a healthy idea of when swearing is appropriate and when not. For my own kids, they are warned not to get in the habit of swearing b/c it is generally socially unacceptable (school, restaurant, stores). But swearing on its own isn't portrayed as evil, just not very creative. And because of that, there are no punishments for swearing--just reminders to have a care at home.
    Punishment should be reserved for use at school or daycare only. And that should be based on what works for your child. But I do think use of the term "abusive" is going way overboard.

    Posted by Anonymous March 4, 10 04:41 PM
  1. I think that some people in this are the cause of what is wrong with society today, as well as the number of ill behaved children now in society. I would first like to say that when necessary my wife and have started to use hot sauce on our 4 year olds tongue(just a dab on my finger to his tongue), and it has worked well. As for the parents that are screaming abuse, I also spank my child who is now well behaved. I think that a look back in time will answer all of the parenting problems, not going to go as far as children only speak when spoken to, but even with that extreme children listened, and were well behaved. Corporal punishment or the lack of it, in my opinion, is one of the problems with this society today, if people, esp. children do not live in fear of the consequences of their actions they will not think twice about bad behavior.

    Posted by Keith July 14, 10 07:01 PM
  1. My 4 yr.old grandson swears when he gets frustrated, mostly when he feels ignored. Now all of us in the family know where and who he has learned this launguage from, his dad, my son. Long story short...I tell my son every time his son swears I should wash his mouth out with soap or put him in time out!
    Daddy is working on cutting out his favorite, adult only words (even when he's not around the kids) and it seems to be working as his 4yr.old's use of those adult only words he had adopted from his hero have almost vanished.
    Good "clean up" son.

    Posted by sharon October 20, 10 05:38 PM
  1. In response to #6, you're right it's not the Dark Ages, it's REAL life! No I wouldn't whip my child w/ a belt as was done to me when a child. Which is why I DO put a drop of Tabasco on his lip! But you believe it's ok for a child to "properly curse"?
    Before anyone becomes liberally exaggerated, my son doesn't get a bottle of hot sauce dumped down his through; he gets one drop on his lip.
    He also has to do push ups, I suppose an exercise that makes him stronger is also bad right? So my son will be strong, he will not care for hot sauce on his food. But, he will not become an adult who knows no consequences in life, he will not become a liberally raised child who in older life wonders why he is not simply required to stand in a corner in 'time out' for his behavior as an adult. I'm ok knowing at age 13 my son knows there is a thing called reality, and he's well adapted into it now and doesn't have to learn lessons the hard way later in life when, the real world is not so easy on him.

    Posted by Efinn October 31, 10 04:16 PM
  1. Hot Sauce is not only lazy, it's abuse, shame on you

    Posted by Chad November 23, 10 12:38 PM
  1. hot sauce is a daily dosage at my house. WE always drink it right out of the bottle. Do i agree that cussing is bad yes. Do i agree it should be used, on occations. Honestly no parent in my oppinion can say that they have never said 1 vulgar word towards somebody, or after dropping a hammer on your toe 4 example. I am a parent myself but you have to take into consideration we were kids at one time too. Every once in awhile ya it will slip, but if it is a regular routine of swearing then yes i agree something should be done

    Posted by bid d March 28, 11 03:43 PM
add your comment
Required
Required (will not be published)

This blogger might want to review your comment before posting it.

About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

Submit a question for Barbara's Mailbag


Ask Barbara a question

Barbara answers questions on a wide range of topics, including autism, breastfeeding, bullying, discipline, divorce, kindergarten, potty training, sleep, tantrums, and much, much more.

Send your questions to her at:
meltzbarbara (at) gmail.com.
Please include your name and hometown.

Child in Mind

Moms
All parenting discussions
Discussions

High needs/fussy baby

memes98 writes "My 10.5 month old DS has been fussy ever since he was born, but I am getting very frustrated because I thought he would be much better by now...has anyone else been through this?"

More community voices

Child in Mind

Corner Kicks

Dirty Old Boston

Mortal Matters

On Deck

TEDx Beacon Street

RSS feed


click here to subscribe to
Child Caring

archives