Swearing

Expert advice on how to handle coarse language

Q: I recently overheard a conversation between my nine-year-old son and his friends: Their language was laced with the F-word and other swear words. I feel like I should say something to him, but I am afraid if I make a big deal, he’ll keep doing it. What should I do?

A: There’s a difference between speaking to your son about his language and making a big deal of it. Do talk to him. Tell him that you heard him speaking with his friends and were appalled by his language. Some kids stop using a lot of swear words when they hear the definition — ask him if he even knows what the words mean. But likely your son and his friends were just trying to be cool. Tell him that you don’t approve of that language and you do not want to hear him speaking in that fashion. He will probably still swear with his friends, but it is important for him to hear from you that the language he is using is inappropriate.