Soap in the mouth for Bad words? Is it abuse or not

Melissa - posted on 07/22/2009 ( 107 moms have responded )

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What do you think. I think used as a last resort it is fine but I also think you still have to communicate and get tot he bottom of the problem, not just shove soap down a kids mouth

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Kate CP - posted on 07/22/2009

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Most soap has a lovely chemical in it called Sodium Laurel Sulfate. This stuff is used in toothpastes, shampoos, bubble bath, body wash, dish washing detergent, laundry detergent, plane engine de-greasers, garage floor cleaners, and experiments for skin care products to produce a controlled irritated patch of skin. I happen to be allergic to that crap and I can't use anything with SLS in it. I would *NEVER* force any child to ingest soap. Eating too much of it can cause serious stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea. I also don't think this is a very good way to teach kids not to swear. First, I don't see much wrong with swearing as long as they are at home and they aren't swearing at any one. Words are just words. Second, I think something with a more lasting impression like making them put a dollar in a jar every time they swear would be a far better option.

Is it abuse? I don't know. I certainly don't agree with it. And I think hot sauce in the mouth aka "tongue spanking" IS abuse. That can seriously injure a young child. A while back here in Texas a woman was convicted of manslaughter for trying to get her daughter (under 1 year) to stop sucking her thumb. She used cayenne pepper on the girl's thumb. The girl choked and died from getting the powder in her lungs.

So personally I don't think soap in the mouth is a good form of parenting.

Jackie - posted on 07/24/2009

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Putting soap or tobasco in a childs mouth as a form of punishment IS abuse as defined by CPS. My ex-best friend has mental issues and has a social worker come to her house to check on her kids from time to time. The social worker said using either product is considered child abuse. CPS says the only acceptible form of physical punishment is spanking on the butt.

Alex - posted on 07/24/2009

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I agree with your post to a certain extent, Celeste. I feel pretty confident that most people want their children to be kind and respectful of others. However, once a child is in school there is only so much that can be done to control what kind of language they are exposed to. In some cases talking and explaining may work. In others, a more drastic measure may be necessary.

[deleted account]

Soap is toxic, so I would say not to go that route. There are other things that are unpleasant like hot sauce that burn but aren't toxic. Only don't over do with that cause depending on how young they are it could burn their mouth.



Also consider- where are they hearing the language? Children are tremendous mimics. If someone around them is using bad language they are going to think it's ok to talk like that too. We didn't have too much of a problem with it since we don't usually swear, but he started saying some bad words when he was around some of our friends and family members that do. We told him that those words were rude, and we don't talk like that. Also, we've told him that if Mommy and Daddy don't say it he's not supposed to either and to ask us if he ever hears a word that he's not sure of.



It's worth a try.



Also, don't freak out and yell about it, it only makes it worse. The more fuss you make the "cooler" it seems because it get's a reaction out of you, if that makes sense? Calmly sit down with them and explain that there are better words to use that won't hurt people's feelings.

Charlie - posted on 07/23/2009

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just to clarify The Australian government definition of abuse :


physical abuse

Physical abuse is a non-accidental injury or pattern of injuries to a child caused by a parent, caregiver or any other person.

It includes but is not limited to injuries which are caused by excessive discipline, beatings or shakings, cigarette burns, attempted strangulation and female genital mutilation.

Injuries include bruising, lacerations or welts, burns, fractures or dislocation of joints.

Hitting a child around the head or neck , and using a stick, belt or other object to discipline or punishing a child (in a non-trivial way) is a crime.
psychological abuse or harm

Serious psychological harm can occur where the behaviour of their parent or caregiver damages the confidence and self esteem of the child or young person, resulting in serious emotional deprivation or trauma.

Although it is possible for ‘one-off’ incidents to cause serious harm, in general it is the frequency, persistence and duration of the parental or carer behaviour that is instrumental in defining the consequences for the child.

This can include a range of behaviours such as excessive criticism, withholding affection, exposure to domestic violence, intimidation or threatening behaviour.

Hot sauce burns that falls under physical and psychological abuse

Soap i personally think is demeaning , and degrading to a child or anyone really , and IF done more than once can fall under psychological abuse .

if a child is swearing its probably because they lack the vocabulary to explain their anger or frustration , or they heard it somewhere else and dont know its meaning , more than likely off their parents or at school .
Either way communication is the key not quick fixes like soap and hot sauce .

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Melissa - posted on 07/24/2009

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Thanks to those who took there time to post. Especially those who actually read what I wrote. As we are trying to not let threads get to big I am closing it now but if someone has more opinions definately private message me. Thanks again!

[deleted account]

Wanted to add, when I mentioned Tabasco I mean basically touching the top of the bottle to get a TINY bit and touching it to the tongue, not even a full drop. And not back to back or all the time. like someone else said about soap, if you have to do it more than once or twice then it's obviously not working and it's time to try something else.



Also, I would do something like this as a last resort, I always try discussing or explaining first if possible, so that I give him a chance to understand and try to comply on his own instead of punishing immediately before he understands what he's done wrong and why it's a problem.



On the one hand I also agree with the person who say's that they're just words, that much is true, but they're also tremendously disrespectful and hurtful and rude. I don't feel the need to talk like that and I am teaching my son to be respectful and kind to others.

Alex - posted on 07/24/2009

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I'll be honest, I didn't read all the posts. But I wash out my daughter's mouth if she uses foul language. But I use baking soda. Non-toxic, tastes horrible, and creates an unpleasant paste. gets the point across without harming the child.

Tania - posted on 07/24/2009

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I had my mouth washed out with soap once as a teenager - it was so disgusting! Clenching my mouth shut and getting the soap in my teeth definitely made it worse - haha. But I survived. And didn't swear at my mother again either - haha. But I wouldn't do it to my children. I think taking something away from them ie a favourite possession or privilege is more effective and definitely more humane.

Jessica - posted on 07/24/2009

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Several people have stated that they have replaced their use of swear words with words they consider not so bad. However, like I have said before, It isn't what words you use it is HOW you use them. One women said that her child doesn't use swear words to emphasise as she never made a big deal out of them. This, I think, is a really good way of going about this. You can say fuck or you can say frick, the meaning is still the same and your kids will still pick up on that. So, in my opinion, either don't make a big deal out of your kids using whichever words you use (but with the same intent) or don't use any words with those inflections at all!

Jeralee - posted on 07/23/2009

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I think it depends on how its administered, my son has received a warning that if a certain word is used that I will put some soap in his mouth. He was also using it to be hurtful, after I told him that it was a hurtful word. If he uses it again, I have been keeping an eye out for the most gentle, all natural soap that I can find. He will only get a small drop on his tongue. As little as I can get in his mouth.

I do not consider the above abuse, however using a harsh soap or sticking a bar into the childs mouth to scrub out dirty words I would. Just about any type of punishment could be considered abuse if used in the extreme.

Hailey - posted on 07/23/2009

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im with u haven my kids fret without their fav toys so i tell them if they keep doin wat they r doing i will chuck them out , they know i mean business and stop doing it

Jennifer - posted on 07/23/2009

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Needless to say, after using this method to stop cursing we have not had an issue since!

Alleah - posted on 07/23/2009

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I find soap in the mouth a bit old fashioned, but not necessarily abusive. Of course, as with anything else, parents can definitely cross the line into abuse using this tactic, but I don't think it's automatically soemthing to call Social Services about.



Personally, I doubt I would use this particular ploy, but I don't condemn anyone else who does. As long as it's within reason, of course.

Haven - posted on 07/23/2009

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After reading all the responses I'm laughing at how rediculous you all sound!!!! All of you that adgree that giving them back a little of what they dished out, whatever form it may be, is just as childish as your kids are acting. I still say take away there fav possesions, have them earn them back, repeat if necessary! No harm done there!

Hailey - posted on 07/23/2009

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years ago when i was a kid i was actually told by docs that it is abuse because of the things they make it with , its not made like it was in the old days

Haven - posted on 07/23/2009

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I think any form of physical punishment could have negative consequences. What if the soap slipped down her throat and she chocked to death. As for a comment you made as to you wanting her using her 4 year old brain, why dont YOU use your ADULT brain to come up with a more adult concequence. Hell (woops, I mean heck) take away some of her fav toys, DVD's anything. If your kids loves something enough, they will probably do just about anything to ghet it back! And all kids will test us over and over again just to see what they can get away with, you just need to find out a way top outsmart them. Washing out a kids mouth with soap is what a kid would do!

Candace - posted on 07/23/2009

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of course its fine...my mom did it and i think kids dont get disciplined enough!!! i wouldnt make them eat it but a little IVORY SOAP on the toungue always did the trick on me.

User - posted on 07/23/2009

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A parents job is to "teach" the children. I dont think putting anything in a childs mouth will teach them anything. Words are what should be used not any type of physical action. Plus, you never know what could be in the soap. Look at all the things with harmful chemicals from China. You would never want to hurt them. I feel that is abusive and wrong. A parent should get at the childs level and talk to them about "bad words" and watch what they say themselves and what children watch on T.V. A parent should not scold a child for doing what they see you do. Thats when it is time for the adult to grow up and be a parent.

Jillian - posted on 07/23/2009

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It most definitely is abuse and you can have your children taken away for doing it. On soap it specifically says to not ingest therefore it is not only abuse it is illegal.

Mel - posted on 07/23/2009

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im wondering if it is technially classed as abuse? the hot sauce or soap? some things classed as abuse are really silly you see fantastic parents with CPS on their door step and you see the terrible ones do whatever they want. i heard some one had social services involved with thm and doing visits due to someone reporting thm for using rice cereal before 6 months. definately silly but i guess some states have laws about it even if most normal doctors and nurses recommend it. my fiances mum tells me back in the old days they didnt have all this crap of child prtection threatened every 5 seconds, nowadays they get bored and cause trouble for no reason. she tells me she doesnt even like my daughter having a carer for fear of them reporting for something stupid, where as my mother and her bf have the opposite views and say to me, they cant take your child without a good reason, people use CPS as a threatening tactic.sorry off topic a bit

Cindi - posted on 07/23/2009

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I've found that by not making a big deal out of "bad words" my child has a high vocabulary and doesn't look for attention by using them. Sometimes bringing attention to it can make a kid want to do it even more. I'm not a fan of soap in the mouth.

[deleted account]

I think putting something thats not edible in a mouth would be a bit harmful if swallowed accidentally my alternative is a tiny dash of hot sauce. Point gets across and it won't harm the tummy.

Jenny - posted on 07/23/2009

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I think that it is your child so it would be your choice whether or not to do so....
if you do not believe that it is abuse then...it shouldnt matter what anyone else has to say about it. Personally I wouldnt do it because I would not be prepared to put soap in my mouth for saying a bad word...so I wouldnt do it to my daughter.

Staci - posted on 07/23/2009

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I got soap in my mouth as a kid....my kids will too. It's not abuse, just making a clear point.

Francine - posted on 07/23/2009

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in the end the type of punishment is up to you, my mom used use soap in the mouth as a punishment on me and my sister. my son for some reason has picked up the phrase "oh h*ll no" no exactly what you want to hear from your 6 year old ..... anyways when he used the phrase last we i used a drop of hot sauce on his tongue, he hasn't used the phrase again. but ultimately its up to you, taking something away from him has also helped i guess the consequence of his actions works just about as well.

Mel - posted on 07/23/2009

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some people on here have mentioned using different words to replace swear words. i would find that way too difficult. atm, i have to watch my tongue when my fiances parents are around as they dont swear, but i have slipped up twice and said "fuck" now i say "frick" lol but not easy. it takes time to get used to it. but at home im still my normal self. my partner and I swear alot and we are not about to change that for our child. of course i am respectful of other peoples children though. our daughter will grow up the same way me and my cousins did, do as i say not as i do. my cousin uses fuck every 2nd word and other worse words, but her kids know if they use those words they get soap /tobasco sauce or a major spanking. ive watched them get hit for it andits not pleasan trust me. they learn now. the 3 and 5 year old say to me "only mumms allowed to say those words they are bad" and i say to them yes she is when your grown up and your a mummy you can you use those words but not until then

Amanda - posted on 07/23/2009

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I think there are other ways to discipline your child instead of washing out his mouth. Maybe you should question the source your child is picking up these words, and correct that first. Then use time out if the child says the word, and positive reinforcement when your child doesn't say the words.

Britni - posted on 07/23/2009

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also when children take showers or bath everyone gets soap in there mouth some point in there mouth... so again.. some of these women are over doing it and time out these days does NOT work, taking away things does not work either.... only for a little bit, if you speak to your child like a little adult and not baby babble, and communicate with them and explan things to them and not sugar coat it.. that will help out a lot, and DO NOT give your kids an option, TELL them thats how it is going to be.. example.." if you dont pick up your toys we are not going outside" no no..lol " GO pick up your toys and then we will go outside" idk there are so many ways of parenting you will just have to find what you feel comfy with..

Britni - posted on 07/23/2009

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um SOAP is only bad if you poor the hole bottle down his or her throat..LOL IT WILL not hurt them to put just a little drip and normally after doing once or 2 times they will stop, my stepson came to me one day and told me to shut my face.. and he was 4 and his father put one little drop in his mouth and explained to him why and then asked him 30 mins later why it was done and he told us, have never said it to anyone since that one time.. so it all depends.. We never spanked them so I guess it all depends on how you feel about it..

[deleted account]

"I want to say one more thing before I drop this:

"People are allergic to EVERYTHING and 90% of the time its a SENSITIVITY. "



If you want to get technical it is not a "sensitivity" or an "allergy". It is poisoning. Why? Well, soap has chemicals in them (depending on what you are using it could be really bad or mildly harmful). If a man dies from ingesting arsenic the Dr. doesn't say, "Oh, he died from an arsenic sensitivity..." No. He says, "He died from arsenic poisoning."

An allergic reaction by definition is when your body acts up from a NATURAL source, not a chemical source. When it's a chemical source it's called poisoning."



arsenic is a NATURAL source, its on the periodic table of elements as a metalloid. But you are correct it does poison you.

And the allergy/sensitivity issue is far from that.

allergies are from NORMALLY harmless envriomental things. its also known as a "Hypersensitivity"

Now a normal sensitivity is when the body reacts but its not as severe or life threatening and usually you barely notice it.

and the girl with the soap issue- yeah i agree you are allergic to it. most people get a tiny lil rash and scream allergy when its sensitivity



but anyways parenting styles differ from mom-mom and the word abuse doesnt have a "working" defintion anymore lol

Jessica - posted on 07/23/2009

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I am very against this. There are so many other ways of dealing with a difficult child. Try the corner or taking away priveleges. Soap is a chemical and is only for external use. So not only is it abuse, it is dangerous! Never do this!!

Cortnie - posted on 07/23/2009

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Even if you don't agree with the saop in the mouth, you know I'm right when I say: Our grandparents SMOKED and DRANK while pregnant with our parents. Our parents pattled our butts with belts and wood and stuck a bar of soap in our mouths when we said bad words...am I wrong? NO



Now you have a these over the top "your abusing your child" screaming retatrds! Seriuosly... look at todays young child. A 5 year old could get away with murder because we can't even them a little swat on the butt. A little taste of soap is not going to hurt. How ever, an entire bottle of soap, yea, that is abuse, but a little bad taste on thier tounge may put an end to the bad language.

Charlie - posted on 07/23/2009

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NO i would not put a foreign object , often made of chemicals , that can cause harm to a childs digestive system and make them sick in their mouth as punishment . soap is not edible , even natural soap is not edible why would you put it in your childs mouth , unless you just teleported here from the 50' s .

Felicia Neikolle - posted on 07/23/2009

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Here's the thing ... I don't feel like I should have to change who I am because I had kids ... that being said - I use ALL the bad words I want to. My kids have said a couple of them and used the slang so closely sounding like the real word I had to double check ... I use LOGIC and INTELLIGENCE with them rather than threats and ABUSE (as I still say soap in the mouth is ... I most certainly NEVER thanked my mom for doing it to me). I simply told my kids that although they hear me say it and hear their friends say it, it is NOT something I want them to do. I tell them that when they are grown they can use whatever words they want but until that day ... they need to find better words to use. It's worked. They haven't tried in a very long time. They are 9 and 7 so ...

Taya - posted on 07/23/2009

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Yeah ive never had soap put in my mouth or known anyone else to do it so i cant say whether or not it works...i cant imagine its very nice but i dont think i would class it as abuse providing you're not making the child eat the soap or anything like that

Chand - posted on 07/23/2009

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I never understood the meaning of abuse so honestly I can't say if it is abusing or not. But I am sure about it that it is not a good thing to do. I never heard it before. There are many way to teach kid difference between good or bad words but punishing is not a solution.

Taya - posted on 07/23/2009

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I never had soap in my mouth for swearing....my mum always made us respectful using other techniques such as time out or we had a activity chart and if we said bad words then we lost our chosen activity for that day and i can honestly say that that worked for us but this does not mean that these techniques would work for everyone and if there is no other way and you find this way effective i do not see why it would be seen as abuse....I dont think i would ever do it to my daughter but then as i say if all else fails it may be all your left with to ensure to get across the message that our children dont say bad words......

Jessica - posted on 07/23/2009

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Hi Melissa,

In response to your comment about not caring if your child swears. My point was that if there is no hate or pain directed in the words then it isn't such a huge deal as if there were. If my son were using cuss words to call someone names or to cause pain, or verbal assault then I would have a HUH-YOOGE problem with it! What I am trying to say is that if there is nothing mean in it then it will be dealt with accordingly, as he won't be harming anyone or causing anyone pain (I talk about harm and pain as emotional rather than physical, though that is probably obvious lol). I myself do the same! Like today I nearly took my finger off with a knife when making dinner and I swore, mainly cos it hurt, but it wasn't directed at anyone. Also the negative connotations subjected to certain words can also be applied to other words, for e.g. The word fuck is deemed as a negative and nasty word to use. However, this word can be replaced with another, fudge. For e.g. Fudge you, you fudging fudger. The only reason that may not sound offensive is because of the humorous connotations, yet it may still be the speakers intent to be hurtful. The context and intended meaning is still the same, so why is it important what the word is? The word fuck can also be given in a positive term, for e.g, that's fucking amazing! Now the word fuck has a completely different meaning to my previous statement. Alot of people replace swear words with other words to avoid social repercussions, or in this case having children overhear and use them, however the child will still pick up on the negativity in the inflection used. Basically words are not important, it's how you use them that is!

Vicky - posted on 07/23/2009

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OMG!!! are you people serious?!?!?! surely this is old fashioned & rather sadistic!!! imagine if someone did the same to adults! think how you'd feel??!!

Cassie - posted on 07/23/2009

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I absolutely disagree with putting soap in a child's mouth for saying bad words!!I I think that, as a parent, it's your responsibility to make sure they don't say bad words, period!! If they pick it up some place else, like school or day care or something, maybe there should be a scheduled meeting with the teacher and principal about who is watching the kid's when they are talking like that. Then sit down with your child and have a talk about what is appropriate and what isn't.

Andrea - posted on 07/23/2009

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I'm sorry to hear that, I ment a spoon full of a food that wont make the child sick or gag, If the child is 5 years and younger let the child spit it out. Its the action that will make the point of not using a bad word. Always think in moderation and the safety of the child.

Andrea - posted on 07/23/2009

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BTW heres an idea , eliminate bad words in the family and change them for others. If some one slips then they have to have a spoon full of a food that they dont like much. If that dosent work then try hot sause,if that dosent work then try a dab of lard in the tip of the toung for a moderate time . If all dose not work then have the child bite into a bar of soap for a moderate time, so the child dosent swallow it, and hopefully that will be the last resort for the bad word delema. I'v never heard of shaving cream in the mouth or drinking bath water, Whats up w/ that?

Tara - posted on 07/23/2009

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I would have to say since soap is not edible its probably not a great idea.. I understand you dont die from a lick of soap .. and I understand that you say you used "natural" soap lol... but a lot of things are "natural" but harmful if ingested. If your trying to go that route I would have to agree with the people that are stating hot sauce... tabasco isnt really hot to me... but it usually is to a say.. 4 yr old, and it gets the point across in the same direction that your trying to go. I would say that she probably enjoys the negative attention if she/he is throwing out the f bomb all the time... Kids tend to like to see what your reaction is...

Laura - posted on 07/23/2009

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MY MOM DID THAT TOO. IT WORKED GREAT ON MY 4 BROTHERS & SISTERS AND ME. I THREATEN MY 3 1/2 YR OLD WITH IT BUT HAVEN'T HAD TO DO IT & PROBLY WON'T HAVE TO. THREATENING IS GOOD ENOUGH WITH HIM. IT WORKS BETTER THAN SPANKING HIM OR PUTTING HIM IN THE CORNER FOR TIME OUT. I DON'T THINK IT'S ABUSE IF YOU JUST MAKE THEM TASTE THE SOAP, YOU DON'T HAVE TO MAKE THEM EAT IT. MY MOM JUST MADE US STICK OUT OUR TONGUE AND SHE WIPED IT ONCE WITH A BAR OF CARESS SOAP. THAT WAS TERRIBLE ENOUGH FOR US! I DIDN'T KNOW PEOPLE USED DISH SOAP FOR THAT. LOL

Andrea - posted on 07/23/2009

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There IS a diffrence between Physical Punishments and Physical Actions. I dont think that soap in a kids mouth is a Phsical Punishment. Its a good action . And for those parents that are sensitive to soap ,then dont do it! Its not an abuse to disipline your child using soap in the past years and its not a legal abuse now! Go for it , the child will thank you later in life.

Candis - posted on 07/23/2009

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I don't see anything wrong with it. All in moderation. I have a hard time with the word "abuse". You do what you think is best for your child.

Andrea - posted on 07/23/2009

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Picking and choosing battles with children is not really an option I would practice in this case. I'm not a big fan of PHYSICAL pinishment myself ( thanks for the spell check) But In some cases (,Like this one) its necessary to dicipline. Spanking is not a good option for most parents, including me. Are there any OTHER options that are last resorts???? Cause I dont think so!

Erica - posted on 07/23/2009

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Just be prepared to eat the soap yourself, if u do happen to slip a cuss word in front of your kids, :) otherwise a little bit a soap never hurt nobody. I had the wash out a few times when i was a kid.

Melissa - posted on 07/23/2009

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I did not mean all as I have had the same argument over spanking I mean some parents do not discipline at all I do not agree with spanking as time outs is what my child gets. I meant to the whole people who are saying they dont care if there children swear.

Stefanie - posted on 07/23/2009

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I want to say one more thing before I drop this:
"People are allergic to EVERYTHING and 90% of the time its a SENSITIVITY. "

If you want to get technical it is not a "sensitivity" or an "allergy". It is poisoning. Why? Well, soap has chemicals in them (depending on what you are using it could be really bad or mildly harmful). If a man dies from ingesting arsenic the Dr. doesn't say, "Oh, he died from an arsenic sensitivity..." No. He says, "He died from arsenic poisoning."
An allergic reaction by definition is when your body acts up from a NATURAL source, not a chemical source. When it's a chemical source it's called poisoning.

Just b/c a parent doesn't spank or use soap in the mouth doesn't mean they don't parent at all. My kids are some of the most well behaved children I've ever seen. Just b/c a mother doesn't agree with you doesn't mean her parenting is somehow inferior or nonexistent. No two children are perfectly alike so you can't say there is only one way to parent either.

Jessica - posted on 07/23/2009

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I've never even considered using soap in the mouth as a punishment! It's never come to mind! and to be honest, I agree with what someone said that swearing in itself isn't bad! It's the inflection of tone and intent behind the words that is bad! for eg, I wouldn't allow my son to call someone a dickhead, or a bitch. If, however he uses it in a phrase like... lets say "shit, that hurt" then I wouldn't really see anything wrong with it! After all, words are just words! It's the meaning and intent behind the words that can cause harm and pain!

Kate CP - posted on 07/23/2009

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"Posted by Lyndsay MacDonald (10:58 am)
My parents did that to me, and to be honest it didn't work at all. I think it's better just to try and teach your kids that there is a time and a place for everything. If you're just hanging out at home, then who cares? But if she's telling her teacher to fuck off, that's totally different."

That was *totally* my point. I pick and choose my battles with my daughter. She never cusses outside of the house if she does cuss. It's usually after my husband or I get frustrated and slip up. The worst she's ever said was "Jesus Christ!". Kids mimic what they see and hear. When I slip up my daughter will say "Mommy, don't say that! It's not nice!" and I'll apologize to her because she's right-it's not nice. I'm not a big fan of PHYSICAL punishment of any kind, really. I'll admit I've swatted my daughter on the butt a few times but we don't use swats as a regular form of discipline in our house. More of a last resort.

Andrea - posted on 07/23/2009

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For those parents that belive that putting soap on a child mouth is a a bad fisical action . I would like to read on other fisical actions that can be more appropriate for children.Cause there are more out there. Hopefully it can help Melissa and other parents ,like me. Allot!!! Spanking and some inflictions are overrated.

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