How do you stop your toddler from cursing?

Please help me. I am the single mother of a two-year-old. He uses profanity in the most embarrassing situations, including day care. When his teachers first told me about it they said not to make a big deal out of it, just ask him to find something else to say. Well, he apparently hasn't found something else to say. Can you suggest anything I might try to correct this?


This is not an uncommon problem at all. Still, I know how embarrassed you must feel when you feel that you have the only two-year-old who is cursing. It is truly a very difficult situation to cope with, especially in the day-care environment.

Children younger than the age of three do not understand disciplinary tactics, such as time out. They are too young to make the connection between the behavior and the consequence.

Your son isn't cursing because he wants to say bad words. He's too young to even understand the concept. He's just doing it because it gets a big reaction out of you. This is normal, common behavior for a two year-old. In fact, trying to get a reaction out of mom is a two-year-old's job. And your son seems to be succeeding quite well.

The teachers have given you the right advice. You have to try your best not to react with anger when your son uses foul language. You might try to get him to use another word as a substitute in the sentence, such as "phooey," which has sounds that children like. Here's the most important part of the strategy. Praise him when he does it right. And praise his language in other areas.

A child who is asking for attention should have it in positive ways. Praise what he does well, read him stories, engage in play with a toy or game he really likes. As your son gets more positive attention, he will be less interested in cursing and getting negative attention.

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