Parenting--Toddlers/Infants/Pre-Schoolers/Swearing toddlers


Hello. My name is Lorena. I have a set of 2.5 year old twins. Their father swears a lot in front of them, and they have picked up some ugly words. I hate it! I have discussed with their father on multiple occasions that they have picked up these nasty words and that he needs to stop. Well he hasn't, and I'm up to my limit with my beautiful children spitting out such vile words. Is there a way I can discipline them or get them to stop swearing? Thank you

Hello Lorena,
Toddlers are very good at picking up words said in their presence. They also like to imitate others. That's how toddlers learn.
You can try to encourage them to use other words and refrain from using swear words, but toddlers aren't usually very good at controlling themselves. They also enjoy all the attention they get for inappropriate behaviors. If their father is not concerned about curbing his own swearing, it is going to be very difficult for you to change their behavior.
I think the only thing you can do is what parents typically do with toddlers to influence their behavior. You can make sure you don't reinforce their swearing behavior. You can best do this by ignoring it and being sure you don't laugh at it or make a big deal out of their swearing by scolding them, punishing  them, or talking about it. On the other hand, you can give them praise and attention for using appropriate words and language.
I hope their father recognizes the impact that his behavior has on his children and stops swearing in front of them. Maybe he needs to be embarrassed by them swearing in the wrong situation or at the wrong time, so he sees that he has to change.
James Windell


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James Windell


I can answer questions related to normal child development, disturbed behavior and how to provide appropriate guidance and discipline.


I've been a clinical psychologist in a juvenile court, worked in school settings, been a child psychotherapist in a private psychiatric clinic and consulted with schools, courts, hospitals and daycare centers.

American Psychological Association
Michigan Psychological Association

I have been a columnist with the Oakland Press (Oakland County, MI) for 21 years writing a weekly column called Coping With Kids, which is also published weekly in the Staten Island Advance. I have been a mental health columnist with the Detroit Free Press and a columnist for Working Mother Magazine. In addition, I have published articles in professional journals. I have published 16 books, among them are "8 Weeks to a Well-Behaved Child" (IDG Books), "Discipline: A Sourcebook of 50 Failsafe Techniques for Parents" (IDG Books); "Children Who Say No When You Want Them to Say Yes" (IDG Books), "What You Need to Know About Ritalin" (Bantam Books) "6 Steps to an Emotionally Intelligent Teenagers" (John Wiley & Sons), "The Fatherstyle Advantage" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang) and "Defusing High Conflict Divorce" (Impact Publishers). My latest parenting book (2012) is "The Everything Child Psychology and Development Book." Articles about my work with parents has appeared in the New York Times, the Chicago Sun Times, the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press. My website at includes more information about me, my books and includes many columns I've written.

B.A. in Psychology from Wayne State University
M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Oakland University

Awards and Honors
Best Educational Program by Juvenile and Family Court Judges Association (National award for the development of a parent training program for parents of delinquent teenagers. Beth Clark Service Award from the Michigan Psychological Association.

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