You protect your kids from wacky Uncle Jack, who tells great stories but insists on using rather salty language. In fact, you probably already invested in various technology solutions for protecting tender children’s ears from foul language uttered on television. When hearing what seems to be a four-letter word on the playground, you are looking around for a parent to come and whisk away the offending child. All in all, your preschooler is ensconced in a cocoon that eliminates cussing and potty mouthing. So what happens when junior proudly utters a particularly heinous four-letter word over dinner? Stopping a preschool potty mouth is not easy, but there are four tips that make the process at least doable.
Banish potty talk to the bathroom. While my preschooler may not be cussing, the angelic child is enamored with words describing bodily functions, such as “poop” and “pee.” Then there is the unforgettable ” poo-poo head ” (thank you, “A Bug’s Life!”). Going for the gusto, these words get repeated over and over during dinner, while in the car and when talking to nobody in particular. I have decided to not make a big deal of these words but instead let them be uttered ad nauseum – in the bathroom. When your preschooler realizes that he will be stuck in a lonely bathroom just to say a few words, they may soon lose their luster.
Try the silent treatment. Reserve this one for the biggies, such as actual adult cuss words that junior picked up. At the first offense, whisk your preschooler away to a quiet area of the home and explain that this word is off-limits. Warn the child that further infractions result in discipline. Depending on the child’s maturity, she will not try the word again. If you are blessed with a boy, all bets are off. In this case you may have to make good on your threat and once again remove the child from the others. Sit together quietly for about five to seven minutes in another room. There is no talking just utter silence. This silent treatment is sure to be worse than any other form of punishment you can inflict on a squirmy preschooler. If he realizes that silence is the cost of saying a toilet word, the odds are good that he will quit (at least in your hearing).
Give them the words! “The less emotional you are, the less rewarding it is for your kids to use that word again,” says Claire Lerner, LCSW. Being visibly shocked and making a fuss only satisfies a preschooler’s need for attention. Stay matter-of-fact and be reasonable in your request to use a different word. For example, if your youngster is looking forward to watching a television program but dad wants to watch the football game, help junior to say something other than “poopy head” or worse; teach him to bellow out “I’m frustrated!” Even better, give him a word that is not usually associated with preschool use, since it is sure to give him the attention he craves. For example, you might teach him to say “I am exasperated!”
Be consistent in your attention. Sure, there are plenty of daytime TV parenting experts who claim that you should just ignore the bad words. Really? Would you ignore your preschooler’s drawing on the wall? If you are serious about eliminating potty words from the child’s daily use, paying consistent attention is critical.
Of course, in order to curtail your preschooler’s potty mouth, it might be a good idea to examine your own use of language first. Is she picking up some choice words from mom or dad while driving, watching TV or just talking on the phone?
Yahoo! Movies: “A Bug’s Life”
Parents: “My 3-Year-Old Has a Potty Mouth”
Today Show: “Clean up your child’s potty mouth”
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