Some parents still using this old-school discipline on kids – and it’s not OK

Posted in Behaviour and Discipline.

Mums are discussing the horrible and very old-school practice of washing kids’ mouths out with soap, because apparently people are still doing that to their feisty kiddos. #OhNo

Old-school punishment

A woman on the Mumsnet sparked the discussion because a child in her care revealed that her mother had put soap in her mouth to discipline her.

“I help out at an after school club three days a week,” the Mumsnet user explained.

“There is one little girl there, she is aged 5. She is a lovely child, very confident and happy but she can be a little cheeky at times. But not in a brattish way. Anyway today she told me that her mum once took her upstairs and put soap in her mouth because she was being cheeky.”

“It upset me,” the Mumsnet user admitted, “perhaps I am very sensitive? It’s just not something that I would do to my child.”

It doesn’t work

Other forum users had some varied opinions on the old “I’ll wash your mouth out with soap” response to inappropriate kid chatter.

“I had my mouth washed out with soap a few times. I swear like a trooper now though so it doesn’t even work,” one woman wrote.

“My Mum did it to me once, I was annoyed with my brother and shouted piss off as loud as I could, she marched me indoors and put a bar of Pears soap in my mouth,” someone else commented. “I’ve never thought of it as abuse, it certainly didn’t bother me any more than a general telling off did.”

“When my brother was 5 he learnt the phrase ‘f* off’. He said it once in the garden, my mum told him she’d wash his mouth out if he ever did it again,” another forum user wrote. “He ran round to the front garden and shouted it out at the top of his voice. She put a tiny bit of Fairy liquid on her finger and popped it in his mouth, don’t recall him swearing again for several years later.”

“It’s a vile thing to do”

But others thought this was a terrible way to parent, and suggested it was abusive.

“You need to speak to someone about it,” one commenter wrote. “Whoever is in charge of safeguarding at the school. Anything like this needs to be reported because even the tiniest seemingly unimportant thing a child says could be a sign of serious stuff going on. Not that I’m saying this is unimportant, I think it’s pretty awful.”

“It’s abusive,” someone else wrote.

“It’s a vile thing to do. Just as vile as ‘hot saucing’ – yes, I’ve heard of mothers putting Tabasco on their kids’ tongues for being cheeky,” another commented weighed in.


Just don’t

For those who think this is a perfectly okay way to stop a child from saying rude words or being ‘cheeky’, think again.

A man in the UK who decided to discipline a very naughty child (not his own) by putting a bar of soap in his mouth was handed a fine for his efforts which is fair enough.

The parents of a US child were arrested after they put soap in their daughter’s mouth as a response to swearing. The child began vomiting and was taken to hospital where staff called the police.

Another mum lost primary custody of her children after it was revealed that she used liquid soap in her children’s mouths as a way to discipline them.

There are plenty of other ways to correct a child’s behaviour without putting them in harm’s way and being unnecessarily cruel.


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