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Swearing. Help needed!

(24 Posts)

Hi. I have a problem and if anyone can come up with something - it's you lot grin

My youngest (11) is swearing. He will just suddenly exclaim "shit" "crap" or suchlike. Now he has added "dickhead" and "fuckers" to it. I am mortified. This is NOT language we use at home, I promise! The internet is restricted (net nanny) youtube is blocked. tv is controlled.

He is saying it at school.

Things that don't work (cos we've tried and tried)
telling him off
taking toys away
taking internet turn away
taking tv turn away
social story
cartoon story (where you do a cartoon grid and use speech and thought bubbles)
telling him we're sad
telling him it's wrong
sending him to his bedroom
star reward system for not swearing
removing him from the situation

It's not that he doesn't care about the above as such. It's that it doesn't stop him.
"shit"
"We don't use those words."
"sorry. <pause> shit"
No matter what you do - and no matter how upset he is, because he can get really upset about it - he still says them.

And he says that he's a loser and he's started punching himself in the stomach sad.

I am at a total loss. All ideas most welcome.

Princessescanclimbtreestoo Sun 09-Oct-11 09:44:29

essentially, punishing him is not working.

with the star reward system, how immediate are the rewards? have you tried dividing the day up into 30 min/15 min, heck even 5 min sections, and rewarding for those? (sorry if you have, I realise your example highlights that it is a very frequent thing)

and, what reward is he getting?

have you tried substituting words that he can say instead? iirc, your boys are big on verbal stims/tics - is there a word he really enjoys, that he could use as an exclamation instead?

I'm trying to get him to say 'barnicles' instead (from spongebob) but although he can tell me that he's supposed to say barnicles when I ask "What are you supposed to say instead?" he will still say shit. <sigh> we (home and school) are also working on "oh NO" and "oh dear" instead.

Rewards - right now, I am typing this, he's in front of me, he's just said "dick oh dick" I said "WHAT?" he said "sorry, I'm cursed." confused

where was I? rewards. I did a star chart where he got a star right away and he put it into his book and when his book was full, we went to toys r us. That didn't work. I tried a toy that he could only have if he'd behaved all morning (weekends only) or afternoon or evening. He didn't care. School tried toys - do some work behave well - 5 minutes with the toy - do more work behave well - 5 minutes with the toy. in a week he was not interested

Praise doesn't motivate him. I don't want to reward with food. If I give him a sweet he will be the size of a house within a fortnight and I really don't want to link sweets+behaviour in his mind. That way lies a lifetime of eating issues.

I can't afford to buy him something new every day/week. He doesn't sustain interest in any one thing for long. What can I give him that I can give him every 5, 10 or 15 minutes? I can't think of anything.

Princessescanclimbtreestoo Sun 09-Oct-11 10:16:06

from things you have said before - interaction is very rewarding and motivating for your boys - don't they try to get you involved in vocal stims etc? if they are rewarding for them, you can always use those too.

sounds like you always need to be one step ahead on the reinforcement front.

in the past I have tried:

toy time (as you/the school were doing, but with very frequent rotation of the toy. would a 'reward box' work? eg a box full of tat interesting things that is available as a reward, for a limited time - more choice, more interest, maybe?)
time (full, undivided attention time) - eg 'work' (the 5 mins with no swearing) for a sticker. 2 stickers meant eg I would do baking (a loved activity that I have no patience for blush). note, there was no implication they would automatically get to eat what we made - the reward was the activity, iyswim. in particular, spooning out and counting/stirring etc - this was what was looked forward to. with this type of thing you need to start small and immediate, and then work up - so even 5 mins might be too long, so go for 1 min. reward instantly, and make it towards something that is also very easily achieved (eg the '2 stickers then X')

other (cheap/free) rewards that have worked for me:

gardening
pushing on a swing
singing
writing (I have weird children grin)
giving over a set amount of time to fully indulge in a vocal stim that I was trying to cut down/control (this was with something with a desirable output, obviously, like telling the time - I didn't want to answer every 2 minutes, so would say 'at 10 o clock I will talk about the time with you for 20 minutes' - and for that 20 minutes I would fully answer every time related question, even if it meant repeating myself every 20 seconds!)
I do use some food rewards, but it is things like having raisins in breakfast cereal - so not exactly something that is a 'treat' as such - normal food, normal time (muesli is even healthy!) and it works for us.

is he also getting attention for doing it? eg the constant telling off etc. dont underestimate how powerful negative attention is. and it gets into a spiral, as you have seen - starts out with a telling off, then the child gets more upset, needs reassurance, might hit themselves, get more comfort etc - all from one word initially. a very powerful cycle.

Princessescanclimbtreestoo Sun 09-Oct-11 10:18:45

with the substitution, have you tried making no recognition of the swearing at all (to offset negative attention), as follows:

he says 'shit'
you: (barely glance up) "barnicles'. pause while he repeats, then reward for the right word used?

no other language. no telling off, no response to him saying "I shouldn't have said that" or "i'm cursed" etc. just repeat barnicles until he copies, then reward instantly (tickles, leaping about, a kiss, a (clean! grin) vocal stim he likes etc)

I love your ideas. I am going to give them a try. thanks.

re the telling off - I know, I know blush It's unhelpful but I am desperate. Nothing has worked so far and I am terrified the school think that we are the sort of family who use such kind of language. And then the other children - going home and telling their parents about this foul mouthed child and what must they think of us?

And I know, that really shouldn't bother me because I know the truth, but still...

jandymaccomesback Sun 09-Oct-11 14:55:38

Been there. We don't swear either, but DS just didn't seem to understand why some words upset people more than others and would say "They're just words". Social stories didn't work for us either!
What did work for a while was having a pot of smiley faces, each worth 10p up to the value of his pocket money. Every time we heard him swear one smiley face was removed from the pot. On pocket money day we counted up how many smiley faces were left and that is how much money he got, so if it was only 10p that was it. It worked because he used to buy car magazines and obviously couldn't have them without any money.
Swearing at school was more of a problem really because obviously schools take it really seriously.
He is 16 now and swears less, but within what is normal for a boy of his age, and he has learned much more about things like not swearing in front of certain people.

pinkorkid Mon 10-Oct-11 17:46:52

Do you think the swearing might be more in the nature of a tic rather than a deliberate attempt to shock or result of losing temper? Just based on your description of his reaction to his own swearing, it doesn't sound as if it's something completely in his control. I understand this would be true to some extent if just losing his temper frequently - which is when my older dd comes out with language which mortifies me - but if he is reproaching himself for doing it and is quick to apologise, that seems less likely.

Sorry, if I'm completely barking up the wrong tree and diagnosing by internet but wondered if it could be a Tourette's type behaviour? My ds who has ASD and ADD tends to have a number of transient tics - some stims, some vocal, all pretty irritating to live with, except they will eventually pass, especially if ignored (even if it's only to be replaced by another one). If that does sound in any way plausible,then princesses' advice re minimal reaction, ignore where possible would be most appropriate, although hard to do.

justaboutstillhere Mon 10-Oct-11 19:33:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

I did wonder about it being a compulsion / tic / stim - I even wondered if it could be tourettes itself - he has all manner of flapping, blinking and vocalisations. But the school say he uses it in context so they think he is intending to say it.

To me it does seem something that he is compelled to do, and I do hear him just saying it with no apparent trigger. Particularly since he says he is "cursed". That would indicate to me that he is actually telling me he can't help it?

He is currently undergoing assessment for ADHD, so I will talk to the doctor about this too. Again.

The class are very good. They ignore it.

I bought a whole load of tat from hawkins today grin so when it's delivered I will set him up with a box, like was suggested up thread. See if that makes any difference.

justaboutstillhere Mon 10-Oct-11 21:42:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Ooh, I phoned her today.

£££ <gulp>

I phoned the council to ask about direct payments.

har.

Someone from bloody child protection hmm called me back to talk to me about it. What the hell? [boggle]. Apparently the initial assessment form the bloke did with me over the phone landed on his desk hmm

Anyway, he didn't even know what direct payments ARE hmm but his manager says no. And why not call the NAS. And if I talk to other parents who are getting them, then I can always call back ask again. hmm

I mean. If it wasn't me on the call, I wouldn't have believed it!

So it's hand down the back of the sofa time, basically grin

Oh, and he said that I "certainly don't sound like someone who isn't coping" (whoever said I wasn't coping hmm) but rather like "someone who is simply trying to access additional services"

I mean. Eh? confused

tallwivghoulies Mon 10-Oct-11 22:15:49

shock Hecate!

My mantra in situations such as these: "Never take 'NO' for an answer!"

Good luck.

Normally I don't take "fuck off" for an answer grin

But I was taken aback by it all and wondered exactly why it had landed on his desk - was it a mistake, did I say something in the initial phone call that they didn't like? and it made me not want to proceed.

justaboutstillhere Tue 11-Oct-11 08:03:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

justaboutstillhere Tue 11-Oct-11 08:25:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

<burns bra>
<chains self to railings>
<realises this is a different kind of revolution>

grin

Yes. I know what you mean.

Do you know my current battle? SALT in school. When my youngest goes to secondary next year, he loses his SALT. Apparently, there's no provision in mainstream secondary (he wants to go to mainstream where his brother is. He will need 1:1 support every hour of the school day) so they won't put the need on his statement.

It's like falling out of a tree and going to A&E and the nurse takes one look at the bone sticking out of your leg and says "sorry, but we have nobody available to put a cast on that, therefore your leg is not broken."

If someone said that that had happened to them, we would think the world had gone mad, but in effect, that is what they are saying to me. We cannot (will not) meet this need, therefore this need does not exist.

If they think I am going to accept that, they can think again.

oooh. Just had a call from a social worker. No mention of yesterday's bugger off from the other guy hmm

She said direct payments are a pain in the arse. Well, she didn't use those words grin but that's what she meant.

But she did tell me about something called 'Derbyshire Core Offer' (or it might have been Care Offer - it was a bad line.)

Apparently, there used to be something called 'Aiming Higher', but now there's this DCO. She's going to send an application in the post. It could mean £800 a year towards his therapy.

I have everything crossed!

I can't walk any more, but I have everything crossed grin

justaboutstillhere Tue 11-Oct-11 12:25:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

£800 did sound an awful lot of money. If what it is replacing was only £150, could she have got the figures wrong?

Still, even if she has, £150 - I'll take it. It will cover You Know Who's initial visit!

justaboutstillhere Tue 11-Oct-11 12:38:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tallwivghoulies Tue 11-Oct-11 12:42:49

Re direct payments...whose arse? Hers I expect. DS gets direct payments and I think they're rather lovely confused

However Hecate, I have many digits crossed for you also.

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