Bad Language

Should you punish your child for saying swear words?

Q: My 7-year-old son came home with a note from his teacher last week saying that he was caught writing the "F" word and showing it to his friends. We rarely, if ever, curse around the house so I assume he learned this word from his friends at school. His teacher implied that my son deserved punishment, but I'm afraid that if I make a big deal about it he'll do it again. What should I do?

A: Recognize that even as young as 7, and certainly with increasing age, kids do use bad language amongst each other. And I don't think there should be a punishment. There should be a lesson to the child that there are times when the use of language that they use among their friends is inappropriate in some other settings -- in school or in church or amongst adults. And the child should be told by the parent that if they're using the language inappropriately then they'll be punished. In this situation the child was communicating with another child -- it wasn't aimed at the teacher. So therefore, I don't think the punishment is warranted.

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