My three-year-old daughter’s interest in toilet training has come with an unfortunate side effect: potty talk. While I am happy to see her learning to use her potty with relative ease, I am very tired of hearing the words poopy-head, butt, and pee-pee shouted out in public places, followed by gales of laughter. How can I stop this kind of talk without dampening my child’s interest in her potty?
In this article we would be looking at Potty Talk: How Parents Can Discourage the Behaviour.
Bathroom humor, or potty talk, commonly accompanies toilet training and preschool development in general. Three-and four-year-olds become interested in these words as they hear them increasingly from you during toilet training or from their friends during play. Not only do these new terms seem to hold the key to the puzzle of how their bodies work and why boys and girls differ—two issues that fascinate them at this age—but they offer the added punch of terrific shock value. Saying “poopy-head” is bound to get a strong reaction from you and plenty of laughter from your daughter’s friends. What preschooler could resist such a word?
How to Discourage Potty Talk
You can discourage this behavior by taking care not to overreact to it. If your child gets no shocked response, using the words is not as fun. Calmly acknowledge her motive for using such terms (“That word sounds funny to you, huh?”), then redirect her attention (“I know a good joke. Listen to this . . .”).
It is not too soon, also, to start teaching your child that certain behavior is appropriate in some situations but not in others (“Talk about bathroom stuff with Mom and Dad, not with your brother’s friends.”). As long as you don’t expect perfect results right away and don’t focus too intensely on this issue, it will pass.
8 Solutions to Help Curb Potty Talk and Swearing
1. Give Plenty of Positive Attention & Reinforcement
This has been said a million times, but kids act out for attention whether it’s your praise or your angry reaction to potty talk.
Make sure you’re giving your children plenty of positive attention and positive reinforcement so their bucket is full and they don’t go seeking out attention in other ways.
2. Put on Your P-P-P-Poker Face
While you can’t control a group of little ones who burst out laughing about a fart joke at the dinner table, you can control your own.
If you laugh or get a rise out of the comment, know that kids are fine-tuned to gauge your reaction.
If they see that you are giving their use of potty talk or foul language attention and will want to seek it out again (and again.)
“If you keep things matter-of- fact and don’t laugh, show embarrassment, or start to get angry, the potty talk may lose its appeal,” says William Warzak, Ph.D., professor of psychology in the pediatrics department at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, in Omaha.
Try turning around and walk away and don’t give your child a reaction.
3. Use Proper Names for Body Parts
When you teach children proper names for body parts, you remove the excitement of using those words as they get older.
Plus, it’s important to teach the real names of private parts and not use words like “booty” or slang, for body safety reasons.
4.Set Rules Around Potty Talk and Cursing
Be very clear about what language is appropriate, and inappropriate to use at home, school, with family and friends.
Reinforce that while your kids may hear other kids use these words at school or on the playground, it doesn’t make it OK and they are not to repeat them.
A firm, yet calm voice will do the trick to back up your rules.
5. Put Yourself in Their Shoes Method
Younger kids often use potty talk to get a rise out of siblings and peers.
They want to have fun and joke around, not realizing that their words can hurt other people’s feelings.
Ask your child to put themselves in the other person’s shoes if they’ve said something hurtful or inappropriate. Use empathy to help them see their actions from other person’s perspective and help curb the behavior.
“How would it feel if your friend called you a butthead?”
Flip the switch and role play with your child to help them see how potty talk and bad words can be hurtful when used this way.
6. Watch Your Own Language & What’s Used on TV, Devices, etc.
Kids learn from their parents from observation, and less from being told what to do.
How you demonstrate speaking respectfully to your partner, your kids, friends and peers, models what’s appropriate language for children to use as well.
If you curse, kids won’t understand why it isn’t okay for them to use.
Kids are keenly sensitive to double standards and if Mommy and Daddy use these words, they’ll believe it’s okay for them to as well.
7. Looking for Laughs
Kids who use potty talk jokingly and to get a rise out of others, might do best by teaching them how to use real jokes.
Grab a book of jokes for kids or repeat your favorite age-appropriate jokes for kids so they can learn the joke by heart and repeat it to their friends.
8. Figure Out What’s Behind the Foul Language
Older kids who purposefully swear, it’s important to try to understand where it’s coming from to help them stop.
I hope you find this article helpful as well as interesting.