What not to do when your child says “I hate you” or uses swear words

July 26, 2020
  • How to solve this problematic behaviour
    1 / 5 How to solve this problematic behaviour

    Your big kid uses hurtful words and foul language whenever he doesn’t get his way. As he grows older, you start noticing a change in his attitude – he talks back whenever you ask him to do his homework, or refuses to listen when asked to put away the digital tablet.

    Soon, disciplining him becomes a near impossible task without him spewing vulgarities or shouting hurtful phrases at you.

    Here, Alfred Tan, chief executive officer of the Singapore Children’s Society, and Dr Foo Koong Hean, senior lecturer of psychology from James Cook University Singapore, and author of Negotiation Parenting, share some tips on how parents can nip these problematic behaviour in the bud.

    (Also read: 5 ways to discipline your child without screaming)


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  • Refrain from overacting
    2 / 5 Refrain from overacting

    The main thing is to not overreact to his potty mouth. Refrain from saying: “I’m your mum! How dare you say that to me!” because most children, especially older ones, don’t do well with top-down instructions, Alfred explains.

    “If the child has used a vulgar word, calmly tell him that you wouldn’t use that word if he knew what it meant.

    Take the time to explain it and, afterwards, ask him if he would still use the word now that he understands its meaning,” he says.

    (Also read: How to discipline a child who doesn’t care)


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  • Attend to it later
    3 / 5 Attend to it later

    A timeout might also work if both of you cannot come to a compromise. “It gives the child some time and space to digest the information and his intense emotions.

    Tell him you’ll talk about the issue, perhaps, an hour later,” suggests Alfred.

    (Also read: 6 discipline secrets from Singapore moms)


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  • Come to a compromise
    4 / 5 Come to a compromise

    Dr Foo advises parents to take their children’s views into consideration using logic and reason. Having regular family meetings is a good way to do this. This is the time where everyone sits down to propose rules and set limits, and come to a reasonable compromise.

    He says: “For instance, you might say ‘no screen time by 7pm’, but your child’s favourite programme may end only at 7.30pm. Listen to what he has to say and allow room for some negotiation.”

    (Also read: How to discipline child in public)


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  • Review your parenting style
    5 / 5 Review your parenting style

    Have you been using the “F” word liberally? Perhaps you’ve said hurtful things to your spouse, too, during heated arguments.

    “In addition, these words may not come as a surprise if your relationship with your child isn’t good to begin with,” says Alfred. If you’ve been an absent parent, his ‘I hate you’s’ may actually mean ‘When I need you, you are not there. So who are you to interrupt my life now?’”, he adds.

    The bottomline: Work on having a close and loving relationship.

    “If your child feels that you love him, most behavioural issues can be easily resolved. But when there is no strong parent-child bond, even the most scientific parenting approach won’t work well,” says Alfred.

    (Also read: Is there a right way to discipline your child)

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

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