Dealing with Potty Mouth

My darling little Landon, the youngest of my 3 boys, somehow learned some foul vocabulary at a much younger age than his brothers ever did…

When he was 3 years old, he’d say some obscenity and boy, did he ever get a reaction from his brothers’ friends!  They were shocked and would tattle, and little Landon just stood there and beamed from all the attention.  I remember a funny conversation between Landon and his dad when he was three:
Dad:  “Landon, we don’t say that!”
Landon:  “But I not say f_@#!”
Dad:  “You just said it!”
Landon:  “No, I not say f_@#!”

Landon has been told over and over that we don’t cuss, but nothing has gotten him to stop.  Tempting as it may be, I am not a fan of washing mouths out with soap. But I’ve got to admit, I sure have come close to doing it!

So a couple weeks ago, my now-6-year-old Landon left a voice message for my girlfriend Debbie, and he said his version of “the f-word.”  Finally, he was “caught.”  I wasn’t just hearing his brothers tattling about it… this time I could hear it for myself.  So here’s what happened to address his cussing problem, and so far it has worked like a charm:

First, he had to go to my friend’s house and talk to her.  She told him that even her high schooler doesn’t cuss and that they don’t like anyone to cuss in their house or around them.  She was kind and respectful and did a great job and he was mortified by this “correction” and took it very seriously.

Next, he had to interview three adults and ask them:
1) What do you think about cussing?
2) How do you feel when people cuss around you?
3) He had to make a little book with what he had learned from his interviews and illustrate it.  I then had it laminated and bound, and he now has a “Book About Not Cussing.”

Getting Landon to hear other people’s views on cussing made more of an impact on him than having his parents tell him to stop doing it.  He got to hear that three of his favorite adults… a grandpa, a grammy, and an uncle all prefer not to be around people who cuss a lot.  It was eye-opening.  Instead of cussing continue to be a power struggle, Landon now had new information and chose to make a different decision.  (One tip:  before having a child call an adult for something like this, always talk to the adult first.)  This strategy has worked with my oldest son slapping little girl’s rear ends in kindergarten, and it worked great when my second son was lying a lot.


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Kerry Stutzman MSW, LMFT

My passion is helping my clients develop close, connected families and healthy relationships. For the past 20 years I have been helping people discover the best version of themselves.  Learn more

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I specialize in working with parents and caregivers with children from cradle to college, with special focus from birth – 10 years old. Learn more

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