Thursday, July 18, 2013

Getting Rid of Potty Talk

The potty talk going on at my house lately is killing me. I'm not talking solely about swearing. I am talking about words like poo poo face and chicken butt. I hate them!

If you have a five-year-old, then most likely you know what I am talking about.

What do you do to stop it? What works at your house? Do you hate it too? Or is it just me?

Things that don't work at our house... because I've tried them all.

1. Praising the kids that aren't using potty talk 

Me: "Wow, baby Ryan is using such good language."
Andrew: "Uh, mom, baby Ryan can't talk."

2. Yelling

Exactly what the kids wanted. They love to push my buttons and see me get angry. It leads to silly poorly thought out threats and frustration for everyone. Win for the kids.

3. Having the kids go into the bathroom to let all their potty words out

At some point we do have to leave the house. Also, my son almost kicked the bathroom door down when I tried this. I don't believe in time out... so this strategy doesn't work for me either. I do however believe in "time in" so I need to incorporate that somehow.

4. Washing their mouths out with soap

Can't get myself to do it. I think it is mean.

5. Sending the kids to their rooms.

Honestly I have actually done this at my wits end... and it actually just reinforced the behavior. They love their rooms and would rather be there when I am grumpy anyway. 

6. Laughing at them.

Yep, that doesn't work either. ;) Sometimes I can't help myself though.  

Here's what I AM trying...

1. Ignoring it and reacting positively to the good words my kids DO use.

I get less annoyed, they say more good things... it is a win win.

2. Having some sort of set consequence when they do use potty talk. (like when they teach their 2-year-old cousin to say, "chicken butt"--- ugh! :( I am seriously not a terrible mom... I promise) 

Um... I'm still figuring this out. What do you do?

I think I'm going to start having my 5-year-old pay me for every potty word he uses with his "work pay" money. I have no clue what to do for the 2.5-year-old though. She is still a loose cannon.


3. Make a visual reward chard

This week we're reading The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, so we made a Gruffalo good words reward chart. Throughout the day I try and catch the kids using good words. We talk about what good words are and then I ignore the potty words and only focus on the good ones. When I catch the kids using good words then they get to fill in a branch on their tree. We each have a tree to fill up. Once they are filled we get to do a fun activity together.

My goal is to use kind quiet words (instead of yelling) and the goal for the kids is to use other more grown up words to describe things (instead of potty talk). 

The upside is that I remember to look for good behavior (and be on my best behavior too) and the kids remind me.
The downside is that we only have our chart in the house... and it only works when I look for the positive. Also, sometimes the immediate gratification that comes from using potty words and making other siblings laugh trumps any other reinforcement I have to offer. At least my kids like each other, right?

I'll let you know how it goes. 

4. Being even more wary of media

My daughter learned how to say "stupid" and "shut up" by watching Pixar's A Bugs Life. I thought it was a cute show... and it is... but now the few scenes with inappropriate words get replayed constantly in her play, conversation, and in social interactions. You never know what words your kids will latch on to... so avoid using them yourself and avoid letting them hear them in media until they are older and more capable of censoring themselves/having self control. I got to be reminded of that the hard way... and now my sweet 2 year old calls me stupid from time to time. Boo! :(

You obviously can't censor your environment or the people around you all the time either... 

5. Telling myself this is only a stage

One that hopefully ends soon. 

6. Trying my best

If other parents want to judge me that is their prerogative. As long as I am using good words and teaching my kids what I consider to be good words for our family to use... that is all I can realistically do. I need to let myself be ok with that and not let it get me overly frustrated. I can't strap the kids down or ban them from being around other kids forever. I can't force my kid not to swear or use potty talk. I can love them and enjoy spending time with them and commend them when they are making good choices... and I would hope they will eventually jump on board and make me proud and use the good language that I expect from them. 

I love all these tips from Positive Parenting Solutions that I found today as well.

What else would you add?
What do you do about potty talk at your house? Any tips for me?

By the way, it is Forest Fun Week for Virtual Book Club Summer Camp! We are having so much fun playing and learning with The Gruffalo and we are going on fun #gruffaloadventures!

You can join in too with the Gruffalo Adventures coloring contest. Check out the details and come participate! You could win a $50 Amazon gift card and a Gruffalo puppet! NCircle and The Gruffalo are some awesome #vbcsummercamp sponsors... so "like" their FB page and check out the contest! There aren't too many entries yet, so you just might win!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. The Gruffalo is one of our Virtual Book Club Summer Camp paid sponsors but they did not pay me to include them in this post. My kids just love the Gruffalo!


  1. I don't like this talk either and I know it is normal and, apparently, hysterically funny but still. Nits are normal but it doesn't make them pleasant house guests.

    Bum-bum head is a favourite at our house. Always, always met with raucous laughter, no matter how many times it is repeated. Especially if Nanny is here. My husbands mum is lovely but very proper in a very English way. She sooooo doesn't ignore it or think it is funny and it reflects badly upon me, of course.

    I will try your chart. I just ignore it at the moment in the hope it will die out. No outward signs of that yet!

  2. We're having a hard time with misusing actual potty words at our house too! My boys' favorite phrase these days is "poopy face" and it drives. me. crazy. I too am trying to ignore it, but I like the idea of both the positive reinforcement and having them pay for saying inappropriate words.

  3. I also cannot stand potty talk. My 5 year old taught my almost 3 year old the skill. Awesome. I do believe in time out, so each time they say a potty word, they get a warning and I correct them- if they do it again, they go to time out. It really seems to be working. What's hard is if we have play date kids over that are potty talking- it seems to intensify in groups! I can't put the other kid in time out, but I do still remind my daughters and will remove them from play for a moment for a discussion about no potty talk and this usually stops them. Sometimes it stops the other kid too, but not always. Yes it is a phase- hopefully a quick one!

  4. Have your told the visiting children that potty talk is not welcome at your house?

    1. I have and they just think it's funny. But maybe I'm not being stern enough. I'll try standing up for my household rules more. I'm so afraid they totally won't listen or worse they'll keep doing it directly just to get my goat- and then what?! I'd feel super lame being bullied by a 5 year old! It's so lame too because I have no problem with rules and limits with my own kids- I'm a rock- they are soooo not walking all over me, I just have no idea how to treat other peoples' kids!

  5. Oh yes we are also having this issue. Stupid, Shut Up, and Booty are favorites in our house. We too have tried the chart - it hasn't ended the problem but it has helped. Also, talking to them about potty words when they are not using potty words.

  6. My 3 year old thinks "poop" "butt" and "peepee" are the funniest words. She says them as a joke, but still, they are not flattering words and I know she knows they are nasty - or she wouldn't think they are so funny. When we're playing and she drops some potty words I stop playing, look at her seriously and tell her calmly, "Princess don't say those bad words." Sure, she thinks they are still funny but it makes her think twice about saying them again. After all, she does think is the princess. Most of the time it works but when it doesn't I refocus her attention on something else funny. She forgets about it because she doesn't get the wrong kind of attention for using "bad" language.

  7. Great topic! Kids are pretty smart, and they know how to push our buttons. They also know what words are inappropriate mostly because of the way the adults around them react to potty words. Sometimes the most difficult thing can be completely not reacting to the use of a potty word. Kids find saying these words funny because they are taboo, prohibited or get a reaction. My approach to this has been to not make a "thing" out of the inappropriate language. For the older child, I will explain that those words are best used when indicating a need to use the toilet, and leave it at that. Even when the word gets repeated (for comedic effect and to usher a reaction from me), I go about my business as though the child is completely silent, offering a new activity, a change of scenery or simply ignoring. It doesn't work like magic the first time, but a consistent approach will send a clear message: potty talk doesn't get you anything (no laughs, no rewards, no punishment, no positive or negative attention). It will stop, at least around polite company. Boys WILL be boys, however, and burp the abcs, armpit fart, say "poopy face" and laugh until they can't breath when in like company. But again, the less you make that behavior taboo, the less fun it will be to do. Good luck momma! It sounds like you are doing your best!

  8. My four year old has started calling me names so I told explained how it hurts my heart and to make my heart feel better I will need a 10 minute foot rub. The name calling stopped very fast. I've only gotten three foot rubs in the last month. He was calling multiple little made up names daily before he had to start "healing my heart."

    1. That is awesome. I am totally going to start doing that. What a smart mom :)

  9. I have never had this issue in my house because the first time I heard an unacceptable word I firmly said, 'We don't use bathroom talk'. With my first child, that was all it took....then came number two. We still don't have an issue with this because when he didn't take my advice I gave him a dose (about 1/4 tsp) of Apple Cidar Vinegar. It is good for you (unlike soap, which I too was unwilling to do) but it tastes TERRIBLE. I only had to do it twice....the second time he actually CRIED as I was pulling out the measuring spoon. They do not use bathroom talk, or any other unacceptable words, and I've overheard them politely but firmly telling a visiting friend who DOES use bathroom talk that, 'We don't use bathroom talk in this house'. Well said, little one, well said.

  10. soap is actually illegal in some states now because kids can be allergic. also. i think the only reason swearing is"bad" is because people make it out to be. they're just words and i am not going to tech my kids to be politically correct robots. i'm going to teach them instead of "don't swear" "don't swear AT people to be mean"

  11. this is from a long time ago & certainly didn't have the outside influences todays children do, but I went #1 or #2, no mention of pee or poo or anything else. today my dogs go piddle or poo but aren't likely to repeat it to someone else. I also agree with a former poster the worst thing you can do is laugh.

  12. Our little ones use potty talk because they think it's funny. If we hear it continuousely (once or twice,just ignore) we'll say "yuck,that's not funny that's potty talk. you know what words are funny?." then we share silly words back & forth. We make sure to laugh histerically at any non potty word choices they use. Guacamole is a big one lately ;-)


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