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How To Handle A Potty Mouth

Close the lid on your kid's embarrassing bathroom blab once and for all.
potty mouth Potty Mouth

"Do you want to smell my butt?" one of my 4-year-old son's playmates asked me the other day. Of course, he had absolutely no desire for me to take a whif of his tushie. He just thought it was funny to say the word butt -- and within a span of about five minutes, poop, poopyhead, and pee-pee pants too. Only a year or two ago, pee-pee pants was something we moms of preschoolers were trying to avoid, begging our kids to tell us when they had to use the potty, praising them if they made it in time. How ironic that just when preschoolers get their bathroom routine down pat, they become obsessed with talking about all things toilet. What gives?

"Kids this age have a budding sense of humor, and they know they'll get a response from potty language," explains Parents advisor Michele Borba, Ed.D., author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries. "Once other kids start giggling when a child says these sorts of things, it reinforces the behavior." Fortunately, you can give your child's potty talk the big flush.

Traditional discipline strategies -- like time-outs or taking a toy away -- don't work well for this problem, and they could even be harmful: "They may make your child feel ashamed and stop her from mentioning anything bathroom-related," says Dr. Borba. "It's important to let her know that her body and its functions are normal and she can talk to you and ask questions." That's why pediatric experts have these other tricks up their sleeve. Welcome to potty training, part 2.