Whether you have kids of your own or you’re rocking the best-aunt-on-the-planet status, there’s one piece of everyday adult life that doesn’t translate well for the kiddies: curse words. What may come as second nature to most of us (sorry, mom) sounds fresh to still-growing kids’ ears. We caught up with Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills child, parenting and relationship psychotherapist, author and co-star of Sex Box on WE TV, to get her take on WTF we are (or aren’t) doing wrong.

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If You Don’t Want Them to Use It, Don’t Use It Yourself

Fran tells us, “As a parent, you want to make sure you or your spouse do not use bad language around your kids. You are the role model — you use it, your child will copy you. Keep in mind that kids will use these words as attention-seeking or for shock value. You can tell them, ‘You don’t need to use those words, just let me know you want me to look at you.’”

Age Is Sometimes More Than A Number

“Five-to-seven-year-olds will use bad language if they hear other students use it,” Fran shares. “You need to educate your child, and let them know that you understand they heard someone else say it, but you don’t want them to because they are not friendly words. You need to keep it in terms of what will make them friends, because that is one of the most important things in their life at this stage — having friends. Friendly language = friends; un-friendly (i.e. bad words) = no friends.”

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Correct the Language in the Moment

Fran reminds parents, “Each time your child says a bad word, correct it in the moment. Stop what you’re doing, look at him or her and say, ‘Remember we’re working on not saying those words. Please fix it, so we can go on to the next activity.’ How do they fix it? Well, for example, if they say ‘f*** you’, you can say, ‘I hear that you are super mad at me — that’s what you need to tell me instead of saying a mean, unfriendly word.’ You want to make sure to encourage their direct expression of anger, but in a respectful way.”

Do you have a little one in your life? Tweet us your tips for keeping things clean at @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)