Q&A: toilet talk

Tiel writes:

"My question is about ‘toilet talk’. I have  an almost 4 year old and since starting kindy and I think with the influence of another little charming friend at family care, his language has gone down the toilet so to speak. He isn’t swearing. He says things like. ‘poo poo dog’, ‘smelly face’  etc etc…you get the gist.  Some things are quite creative, like ‘radio monster’ and  my favourite..’you’re a mustard pickle!’ But on the whole it is driving me insane. I know that a lot of children do this, but WHEN IS IT LIKELY TO STOP???? Any suggestions on how to approach it. I’ve tried talking to him about ‘naughty words’, even ignoring him, but he thinks it is all very funny."

Well, in all honesty, it is pretty funny. "Mustard pickle," especially. But I feel your frustration, as we were in this exact situation after a few weeks of preschool last year, and it was driving me off the deep end. Truly, I thought I was going to gouge out my eardrums rather than listen to any more fart and poop talk and random word string insults.

My son’s teachers had a policy that we continued at home about "bathroom talk" (the effluent-related words and insults), which was that you could say those words all you wanted to, but you could only say them in the actual bathroom. It seemed to work fine for them at school, but was a constant battle at home. (It was truly hilarious, though, when El Chico would run to the bathroom and I’d expect to hear him lifting the toilet seat to pee, but instead I’d hear him shrieking "Poop! Farts! Doodoohead!")

Meira and her husband used reverse psychology to get their older son to stop with the bathroom talk at that stage by taking his favorite potty words and setting them to a tune, and then singing them loudly and with gusto for days until he got tired of them and stopped. (Because anything will become instantly uncool if your parents are doing it.) You can see why this appealed to my imagination, so we tried this method. I don’t know if it was the singing of the potty words that did it (we kind of did a fugue style in harmony), but El Chico finally stopped with the effluent-related words. He kept up the random-strings-of-words-as-insults for a few more weeks, but then that petered out, too.

So you can try this stuff (and I’m sure someone else will have suggestions of other things to try), or you can buy a big roll of duct tape and tape his mouth shut get some earplugs so you don’t have to listen to it anymore wait it out. He and the other kids in his class should move on to the next thing in a month or two. It will probably be pretending to shoot each other, or dressing in capes and being superheroes.

Hang in there.

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