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Tormented by Toilet Talk

Tormented by Toilet Talk

I’ve noticed a recent increase in parents asking for tips on how to deal with their children using certain words which may be considered inappropriate in public, namely “toilet talk” (also known as potty talk or the more technical term “scatological language”). Basically, any words associated with toileting such as “poo” or “wee” or general insults like “you’re a poo-poo head” which is seemingly hilarious to little ones!

Unfortunately there does not appear to be a lot of research around about the use of this type of language (or great strategies on how to deal with it!), however, from what I can find it appears to be developmentally appropriate for children to start using this type of language from around the time they start toilet training. Interestingly, it is also thought to be commonly associated with the development of a sense of humour (again, not well researched as humour is a difficult construct to define, but this type of humour has appealed to kids since back in the early 1900’s – so it’s definitely not something new!).

Anyway, despite the lack of research around the use of little ones and their toilet talk, I have devised a few strategies to help those parents who are starting to feel a little potty mouth grating on their nerves:

Get the Words Out

This strategy probably feels a little counter-intuitive but it can be really effective. Work with your child to say out loud all the inappropriate “toilet talk” words you can both think of. Be as silly as possible, sing them, shout them out loud, do what ever your little one needs to do to get all those words out. Once all the words have been expressed and spoken out loud in as many different ways as your little one can think of, agree that neither of you will say any words from “toilet talk” for the rest of the day.

This strategy helps your child express the words that they are so bursting to say, you’ve given them an environment in which they can say them without being reprimanded, and made an agreement around when those words can and can’t be used (e.g. they can be used at home when you are both “getting them out of your system” but not anywhere else). Your child will get a good kick out of you saying silly words too!

To read the full description on how to implement this strategy, click here.

Practice Appropriate Words

It can be helpful to arm your children with alternatives that they can use instead of toilet talk. Some kids will use toilet talk as a means of humour, while others will use it to express frustration or anger.

Help your child to identify what they are feeling when they use toilet talk terms, and brainstorm what words they could use instead.

Click here for a step by step guide on how to implement this strategy at home.

Discuss Why

Many children are unlikely to understand the impact their words can have, particularly if they are using toilet talk as a way to express humour, even though it may come across as insulting. It can help to explain to your child the reason why they need to use words other than toilet talk.

For examples on how to have this discussion with your child, click here.

Discuss Where

Lastly, it can be helpful for children to have a specific outlet where they are allowed to use toilet talk. For example, is it OK to use toilet talk in the toilet? Can they use toilet talk if they are playing alone in their bedroom?

This strategy can be particularly useful in different contexts. For example, if you’re at the shops or at a cafe and your child starts using toilet talk.

For examples on how to discuss with your child where toilet talk can be used, click here.


I hope you found these strategies helpful. If you are looking for one on one support to help you with your child’s behaviour, check out our membership options (you can get unlimited support tailored to your individual needs from just $5 per month)

References

  • Mallan, K. (1993). Laugh Lines: Exploring Humour in Children's Literature. Literature Support Series. Primary English Teaching Association, Newtown (Australia)
  • McKenzie, J. (2005). Bums, poos and wees: Carnivalesque spaces in the picture books of early childhood. Or, has literature gone to the dogs? English Teaching: Practice and Critique. 4(1) pp. 81-94

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