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Pediatrics/4 year old won;t dtop cussing


My four year old does not get along with his older sister who is 22 years old and has not moved out yet. My older daughter had a boyfriend who, after their break-up, her bf was so irritated that he showed her a lot of anger and disrespect by swearing at all - a lot. He called her many names that my son who was almost three year old, heard often at my home. I tried to prevent him from hearing the bad language so he wouldn't be exposed to it but somehow, almost two years later, he picked up on it. Now, he uses cussing like a sword and yields it toward his older sister whenever he gets angry. He tells her to "go to hell and go die." He does it out of extreme anger. He told her that when he gets bigger, he's going to beat her up. He knows just how effective his new language is because he knows what triggers he anger in return. She tells him she loves him but he yells at her and says he hates her. I constantly remind him that our family does not swear at all and it's very bad but he continues to swear only when he gets angry with her. I really don't understand why he gets so angry but his older sister is extremely confrontational and very immature. What's strange is that he never uses cussing toward his dad or older siblings. Sometimes when he gets really angry, he cusses in public but it's very quietly and rarely. Now, he tells me he hates his daddy because his daddy leaves him for months at a time because he decided to become an over-the-road truck driver. My husband's decision was not in the best interest of his family. I am constantly giving my four year old time out and spanking him several times a day for his cussing but now it isn't effective anymore. Some personal friends have suggested that I wash his mouth out with soap and water. Is it bad for him to do that? He also refuses to use the potty and he refuses to eat vegetables even a tiny speck of it.. he used to like vegetables. I'm at my wit's end with him! What should I do to correct his stubborn behavior and swearing problem?


Please see your doctor, have a good exam done, get a good history and have your doctor suggest a good family counselor to help solve this messy situation.  Don't wash his mouth out with soap.  It probably won't hurt him, but will be as ineffective as the spanking is to him and may fuel his anger fires.  

Sorry I can't be of more help to you, Dr. Olson


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David Olson, MD


I would be happy to attempt to answer any questions about general pediatric topics, either medical issues or behavioral issues. This would include all the various questions one receives in a busy pediatric practice. I`m a board certified pediatrician in northern Michigan and have been in practice for over 15 years. I enjoy the teaching role I have in our practice and would enjoy the opportunity to help others with their pediatric problems.

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