When Little Kids Swear

"When little kids swear" by Melanie Jean Juneau (CatholicMom.com)

By Steve Hillebrand, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Experience has taught me the easiest and most effective way to influence children is to ignore negative behaviour and praise good behaviour. When we react with shock or righteous indignation when they swear, small children often are delighted by our dramatic response because they have triggered our outburst. In a sense, we unwittingly give our preschoolers too much power. I discovered if I treated a swear word in a laissez-faire manner, my children quit almost immediately. I often think God has just this sort of patience and sense of humour when He is faced with my poor conduct.

When our family was still young, few kids lived nearby because our house sat on a few acres in the sparsely populated Greenbelt surrounding Ottawa, Canada. The kids were free to explore, catch frogs, make forts, skate on a homemade rink and ride their bikes on narrow dirt paths through the surrounding fields and clusters of trees. It was the perfect spot for imaginative children to play without fear like children have played for hundreds of years.

However, our homemade ice rink attracted three older boys who lived down the road. They were actually quite sweet, including all our kids in pickup hockey games even though everybody was eleven or younger. David, my fourth, was only five but he was the designated goalie, sporting adult-sized pads which almost completely immobilized him. Although he could hardly move, he was thrilled because he was an important member of a real hockey scrimmage. He never complained, enduring hockey pucks that relentlessly slammed into his pads.

These hockey games were the highlight of the day. After dinner, I’d help the smallest children bundle up against the cold because even our youngest children wanted in on the excitement. They could only waddle outside, scarves wound around their faces and foreheads, with only their twinkling eyes visible.

They stood like stuffed statues, pleased simply to watch.

The Older Boys Liked to Swear

It was a lovely old-fashioned pastime, repeated for generations in the frozen north. However, this idyllic scene was not as innocent as it appeared; our teenage visitors did not curb their language while they were in the heat of the game. I discovered this one evening while tucking three-year-old Claire in bed. She had just had a bath. Her hair was curling softly around her face and she was cozy and warm in a soft pink blanket sleeper with her thumb in her mouth. She looked adorable. However, Claire was mad that she was in bed before her younger sister who had slept for a couple of hours in the afternoon. As I started closing the door, Claire took out her thumb and yelled,

“Close the [BLEEP] door you stupid [BLEEP]!!!!”

My eyes opened wide. My mouth dropped open. I stood frozen in shock for a moment. Slowly closing the door without saying a word, I went down the hall in a bit of a daze. I faltered slightly as I managed to stutter to my husband,

“Do you want to know what Claire just said to me?…”

I didn’t mention anything to Claire and she never repeated those swear words again.

Copyright 2017 Melanie Jean Juneau


About Author

Melanie Jean Juneau is a mother of nine children who blogs at joy of nine9. Her writing is humorous and heart-warming; thoughtful and thought-provoking. Part of her call and her witness is to write the truth about children, family, marriage and the sacredness of life. Melanie is the administrator of ACWB, the Editor in Chief at CatholicLane, CatholicStand, Catholic365 , CAPC & author of Echoes of the Divine.


  1. Oh thank you so much dear, i have 4 and 8 months old girl, almost 2 boy, almost 4 months old boy thank you i need it. God bless you.
    I read your post about purgatory before i think on catholic 365 if i put it correctly and i will not forget it. God bless you abundantly.

    • Isn’t it comforting to know that all other mothers face similar problems? When my oldest was four, I was positive I was a terrible mother, till I read a book on child development and discovered four-year-olds go through an out of bounds stage, which they quickly out grow.

  2. Mother in need on

    Please say a prayer that my son breaks up with this girl she is so bossy and they fight every day and she cuss up a storm and she runs her parents life im desperite for them to break up before something bad happens. He turns 18 in about a month she is only 15

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