I’ve received several requests to explain the idea behind the title of my book so here you go. The primary thesis of this book is that conventional rewards and punishments are technically flawed in that they are at odds with basic research in this area. However, these flaws largely go unnoticed until these conventional strategies are attempted with “difficult” children. Eventually, parents and teachers working with these kids abandon these tactics in favor of things like yelling, threatening, and spanking.
While effective in the short-term at managing behavior, they do nothing to reduce behavioral problems in the long-term. Rather, things like yelling become less effective over time while the child’s defiance actually increases. I often tell parents, “You can yell and it works. But tomorrow you’re going to have to yell twice as loud to get half the compliance and all the while your expectations sink lower and lower with each passing day.” I thought Don’t Swear with Your Mouth Full! was a funny way of capturing that phenomenon.
The good news (and the reason that I wrote this book) is that there is hope! We have figured out how to correct the problems with conventional discipline and these new ideas are spelled out in simple terms in the book along with numerous examples to get you started. And all without making the adult look like the bad guy!