As much fun as this childhood rite of passage is, you may be ready to leave it behind long before your child is. In fact, some kids keep up the crass talk until "right around the beginning of high school," says Alan Greene, M.D., pediatrician and author a half-dozen books, most recently, Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care (Jossey-Bass 2007).
"There's an early fascination with potty talk in the early elementary years, and a different fascination in the middle school years when kids are excited by the racier aspects," he says.
Fortunately, there are ways to encourage your child to finish this stage sooner, rather than later.
1. Watch your own mouth.
A lot of parents use the very language they want kids to give up without realizing it, says Jodi Stoner, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and co-author of Good Manners are Contagious (Spinner Press 2009). "Parents can actually be introducing silly words -- like "stinkypants," "poopyface," or "wiener boy" -- because they think it's cute," she says. Stop using the language you want to curtail, and your chances of success will skyrocket.
2. Watch your kid's friends.
3. Keep your reactions in check.
4. Expand your comfort zone.
We all use the potty, but some people are more comfortable discussing their bodies than others. The more comfortable you are talking about bodily functions, the sooner your child will give up his own potty talk, says Dr. Greene. "They feel powerful using this language because it gets shocked looks from people and feels forbidden." Take away that reaction, and the language loses its power.
5. Lay down the law when necessary.
If your child persists in using potty talk despite your new attitude, "stay calm, but do respond immediately and be consistent with a time-out or withholding a privilege," says Dr. Stoner. "Time out is the most effective discipline method for potty talk," agrees Dr. Greene. "The less intervention, the better."
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