Is your preschooler fascinated with bathroom humour? Do you catch him or her saying the most embarrassing things like "You are Ms. Poopoo" or "I want susu for lunch" ?. Isn't it mortifying when they say this in public or when guests come? What is a parent to do? Read on.
Don't worry. It is a phase. Many children will go through this phase. Children always learn new words as they absorb from what is around them and the conversations grownups have. These words of "bathroom humour" are also words they have learnt and absorbed into their vocabulary. Parents often use these words because, let's admit it, the first few years of a child's life has a lot of bathroom vocabulary in it - from diapers to potty training. We parents use these words a lot when talking to children. What children have not learnt yet, is how to use these words. They will eventually.
What is different about these words? Well, children are great observers. They notice that grownups react very differently to these words - some are embarassed, some are sensitive, some are amused, some are disgusted and some are angry. Whatever the reaction be, children notice that grownups react differently to these words than if they say other words like "beautiful" or "phone" or some other mundane word. Anything that prompts a different reaction from you, sets off a light bulb in the child's brain and they think it is funny to see your reaction again and again and again. That is why they use these words often.
The most important thing is not to overreact or react differently. The first time you hear it, treat it normally like any other word. Educate children about its usage. If you react differently, children will latch on to it. Use the word in a regular conversation so they understand it is a regular word.
If the usage continues, lay down the rules. If your child keeps saying it in public, tell her clearly "That word is making people feel uncomfortable. No one thinks it is funny. Stop using it". Enforce this rule, like you would enforce any other rule for good behaviour - encouragement, praise, timeouts, extra chores etc.,
It is also our role as parents to teach children about the way their body functions. Excretory functions are important for a child to learn about. Teach them about how the body flushes waste from itself and why it is critical. Teach them about the different parts that are used for each of these functions. Talk about them naturally and using the appropriate names for each function and body part. A simple direct explanation will give them confidence that these are important and useful functions, not to be taken lightly. Do make them comfortable about using these words by telling them that they can tell you (mom and dad) what they want.
Humour is very important for children. Potty talk is one way for them to be humorous. Give them alternative ways to get a laugh out of us. When they go down the path of bathroom humour, distract them with other funny things.
And if nothing solves it, keep focusing on setting and maintaining the limits. And just wait. This phase will pass!
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