Handling Bathroom Humor

What's Appropriate and What's Not

Set limits. You set rules about bedtime, television habits, and safety issues. So why not establish guidelines about bathroom talk? Here are a few examples of how to explain to your child what's appropriate and what's not:

  • It's okay to tell Mommy or Daddy something private about your body, but it's not okay to shout it out on the street.
  • It's okay if you're wondering about the differences between boys and girls, but it's not okay to ask your music teacher to explain them.
  • You can't talk like that at the dinner table. Go into your room and say those words -- then come back.

With guidelines like these, you're not only setting limits, you're also teaching your child an essential lesson about context. There are appropriate times and places for different behaviors.

Most preschoolers have difficulty controlling impulses until age 5 or 6, when they develop a conscience and start to internalize your rules. At that point they become more interested in learning and reading -- and generally leave potty humor behind.

Until then, experts advise parents to take a deep breath. "It's just a stage," notes Wallace. "If you can ignore it sometimes, it will subside."

Copyright © 2001. Reprinted with permission from the March 2000 issue of Child magazine.

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