My son is in a serious potty talk phase. We made a rule that he could only say poop, fart, diaper head, and whatever else he can make up while he is inside the bathroom. It worked, but too well. Now he just runs into the bathroom all the time just so he can shout out disgusting words. In addition to being over it, it's also a bit embarrassing when company is over. How can we make it stop?
—Tired of Poop
Dear Tired of Poop,
I feel your pain. When my daughter was about 3 years old, she picked up the phrase "Douche Lord." My husband swears he had nothing to do with it, so I blamed anonymous playground kids (always a good scapegoat). Anyway, the first time she referred to me as Momma Douche Lord, I lost it—not as a French mother would have, with reprimands and lectures that that such language WILL NOT be tolerated, but with a fit of giggles so strong that I needed to wipe my tears on her blankie. Of course, my girl thought this was the greatest and started calling everyone Douche Lord. Awkward on a good day, excruciating on most others. This was all before I'd gone French, so we suffered.
When I asked one of my French mommy consultants how the potty talk is handled in France, she first assured me that, "This is not such a problem for us." Ugh! I hate it when they say that! She went on, however, to say, "I assume that this child is quite young. It does not sound very acceptable for an older child. But, if this is the bargain the mother has made, she must stick to it. It is not so bad. I think the child will get bored with this soon."
With certain things, like thumb sucking, strollers and now it seems gutter mouths, the French don't make such a big fuss.
My French gauge is getting pretty good because this is exactly what I thought she'd say. With certain things, like thumb sucking, strollers and now it seems gutter mouths, the French don't make such a big fuss. It's if the kids intrude on the enjoyment of society at large that there's a problem. So, I would suggest modifying the deal a little and telling your child that when there are visitors at home, he can only practice his kiddie curses in the bathroom if he does it softly enough that the guests don't hear him. I imagine that will get old really quick—especially when his little profanities fail to shock anyone.
With my own kids, I must have been channeling something française when I recently laid down the house rules for swearing, which, for a 6- and 8-year-old, are a little less innocent than "diaper head." I explained to the girls that swear words are just words, and intrinsically are not different from other words. With that in mind, they are allowed to say them at home, but never in anger and never directed at each other (or us parents!). Furthermore, they are never to use them in front of other children, and especially not in front of any other grown-ups (including visitors in our home). Kids like to be trusted. It's very, very rare that they do bust out a profanity, but when it happens I repress the laughs and let it fizzle.