Sarah sent Parent Hacks a one-line email:
How do I get my three year old to stop saying "poopy" to everyone all the time?
Isn't that a question we've all asked ourselves?
Toddlers and preschoolers are just beginning to embrace and experiment with the power of language. Bathroom-related humor gets a reliably big reaction.
It may be crass, but let's be honest — it's funny! The scene in Bridesmaids that got the biggest laughs involved ladies pooping in sinks. Walter the Farting Dog and Captain Underpants are popular with practically every kid. That toilet coffee mug? #1 bestseller in the mug category at Amazon.
Which is not to say your kid should walk around saying "poopy" all day. But I think the first step is to acknowledge the humor (especially when all of his/her friends are giggling uncontrollably, reinforcing the situation).
The next step is to briefly explain why potty humor needs to stop, but with as little reaction as possible (because the reaction is the reinforcer). Say something like, "Ha, ha, Aidan. I know you're joking, and 'poopy' can be pretty funny. But we don't make potty jokes because it's not polite."
[I don't call it "potty talk" because two- and three year-olds have to talk about the potty all the time. My intent is to distinguish talking about bathroom-related stuff (which is fine) from crass joking (which isn't).]
After that, be quick, decisive, but low-reaction with your followup ("No potty jokes, remember?"), and add a mild consequence if necessary ("Oh, well. We have to leave now because your potty jokes aren't polite."). Eventually the bathroom humor will fade.
Different strategies for different kids, of course, but it worked for me.
Parenthackers, what worked for you? How did you handle the toddler/preschooler poop-joke phase?
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