When Good Kids Say Bad Words


As a children’s ministry leader, you can encourage and equip parents when good kids say bad words. Give Christian parents these six creative ideas to use with their children. You can cover these in a parent-training meeting or include them in your next parent newsletter.

All parents face the challenge of how to respond when kids say bad words. Share these key tips.

  • Resist the urge to display shock or anger.
  • Calmly explain in age-appropriate language why certain words aren’t acceptable.
  • Preschoolers often just repeat what they hear. When they do use a bad word, share that certain words can hurt people’s feelings.
  • For children ages 6 to 9, explain that words are “bad” when they’re intentionally used to hurt others.
  • Preteens often use profanity to get a reaction from adults and impress friends. Tell them that you won’t allow obscene words and gestures, and help them develop the discernment to censor their own language.

    Parents can also use these 6 creative ideas.

  1. Catch Your Words

Give family members each a small piece of rope, and let them tie a lasso. (Help small children.) Talk about a lasso and how it’s used. Set out some stuffed animals and try to lasso them. Read James 3:2 and discuss the importance of controlling your tongue. Then talk about what it would be like to “lasso” your words.


2. Stay Away, Sin!

Fill a cup with water and set it on a table. Take turns sprinkling pepper on the water and sharing some of the bad ways Satan tempts us to use our words, such as lie, gossip, or swear. Ask: “How does the water look with all the pepper on it?”

Read aloud James 4:7-8. Say: “When we come close to God, he helps us resist the devil.” Add a drop of dishwashing liquid to the water.

Say: “Just as the pepper ‘ran’ away from the soap, Satan runs away when we focus on God.”


3. “Cheerful” Words

As a family, brainstorm catchy cheers for praising God. Also create a personalized, encouraging cheer for each family member.


4. Sign It

Check out a library book or video about sign language. Learn how to sign phrases such as “Jesus loves me” and “Jesus is our healer.” Discuss how the motions reinforce the words in each phrase. Then talk about how body language affects our conversations.

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5. Great Impressions

Have each family member use Silly Putty or Play-Doh to make an impression of something around the house, such as a shoe tread, heating grate, or fork. Take turns trying to guess what each impression is without the creator saying anything. If people are stumped, have the creator give a few clues.

Afterward, ask: “What was it like to figure out the truth without any help? How’s that like trying to guess what someone is thinking or feeling?” Read

Matthew 5:36-37. Say: “The Bible says it’s important to be honest with others. Then they can trust us because they don’t have to guess what we’re thinking or feeling.”


6. Special Delivery

Take turns saying phrases such as “I love you,” “Thank you,” and “You’re welcome,” in different tones and volumes. Say some words short, or staccato, and draw out others. These changes will keep your words interesting to children—and just plain fun. Then, discuss how the way you say things affects what people hear.


This article was adapted from Parenting Christian Kids newsletter–the customizable monthly newsletter that will help you connect with families in your children’s ministry!

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About Author

Christine Yount Jones

Christine has more than 28 years of children’s ministry experience. She is the Executive Editor of Children’s Ministry Magazine, has authored many books and articles on children’s ministry, and serves as co-director of the KidMin Conference. She’s led teams in the development of leading innovative resources, including Buzz Instant Sunday School curriculum, Grapple Preteen Curriculum, and the new Dig-In Sunday School curriculum. Follow Christine on Twitter @ChristineYJones

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