16 answers

How to Get a Toddler to Stop Saying Not Nice Words?!

My almost 3 year old son has started to say and call people "stinky poopy". He started this a week ago and we at first told him not to say it. That didn't work. So we started to ignore him. Didn't seem to do anything either. Today at the mall when leaving a sales person my son said "bye bye stinky poopy" and I was mortified. I reprimanded him at the store. But yet again that didn't do anything. Then he started to say "pee pee". This past month he transitioned to the preschool class in his daycare so I don't know if it is the influence of the "older kids". How do I get him to stop? He doesn't understand that it isn't funny and that it isn't nice. He thinks it is quite funny.

What can I do next?

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Why haven't you simply punished him? Take away his favorite toy for a day - and make him earn it back by behaving.

1 mom found this helpful

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Why haven't you simply punished him? Take away his favorite toy for a day - and make him earn it back by behaving.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.. This is the age of bodily function! He's becoming aware of how his body works - these are the things that come out of it. Perfectly normal and natural.

How to handle it? First, don't make it a big deal. Or he'll know just how to piss you off when the time comes (oops - there's that word again!)

Next, tell him that different houses have different rules (this will serve him - and you - all his life. A great concept to start teaching him now.) At two, it's simply, "Not here." "No bad words." Pause in between. He can't get more than a few words at a time and he needs to process this.

You didn't say if he's potty trained - but this is directly related. So get him a potty! Just put it in the bathroom. Let him make friends with it. It's his special thing. Let him sit on it - clothes or no clothes for now.

And tell him - this is were the poop goes (if that's the word you use... whatever. Tinkle too, etc. You get it.)

Soon you'll teach him how to use it (again, if you haven't already...)

And then, don't worry too much about other kids at school. They may be saying these things, but that doesn't mean we have to tolerate it in our home. Again, this will happen all his life.

Time out. Period. Immediate. Simple. "No bad words." Time out for 2 or 3 minutes (quiet and in the chair - no screaming and yelling - then the time starts over.)

It's time now for you to show him who the real boss is. However, also time for him to learn to handle his own power - and when he gets to use it (i.e. picking out his clothes, choosing a snack, etc.).

But issues of manners and safety are totally Mom's territory! No exception there.

So hold your high standard for him, but help him learn about his personal power. This is a phase for him, but when this one is done, the next one comes along... So set the precedence now!

And enjoy him. Time is flying by...

1 mom found this helpful

Hi A.,

I bet you'll get a ton of responses for this one! I have known and worked with many children over the years, and every single one of them went through a phase of using potty words. It happens when kids are about 3 years old, and can last until 5 years old in some cases. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that this is the time when kids are mastering potty training, and also that they often get such strong negative responses from the adults in their lives when they start using "bad" words. All of the kids I've known happen to think it is just hilarious to say pee pee and poo poo. Can you imagine being a pre-school teacher and having 12 little ones running around calling each other pee pee and poo poo and then cracking up hysterically several times a day and especially at lunch time ? I spent a year of my life enduring that ! Just try to hang in there and know that this phase will pass, and that the less you say and the calmer you are and the less attention your son receives when he uses this language, the better ! I had one Mom who was somewhat successful in lessening this kind of talk, by simply saying- "Oh that's potty talk -we can go to the bathroom and talk about pee and poo if you want," and then she'd take them there. They got tired of that very quickly. Anyway, wish you luck,and don't worry- your son is normal ! L. S.

Decide what discipline works for him and implement it. A friend's son just started with this and since time outs and taking toys away don't have an effect on him, she took away television priveleges (he doesn't get to watch much anyway) and THAT was effective. He stopped with the words immediately.

Create some consequences, like taking a toy or TV or something he really loves for a period of time. Worked for my parents growing up, worked for me and it works for our kids too.

Totally the age!! My 3.5 yr old boy loves to say "poopy head". I tell him no, it is bathroom talk and if he wants to say that word he has to go in to the bathroom and sit on the potty.

The other thing I did which works really well is when I push him on the swing, we make up word that end with "head". Such as Cheese head, house head , Ryan head...so forth. He thinks this is hilarious and takes the focus off the negative.

Good luck!!

Tell him that's potty talk and if he continues to use it again you will take away X! Always work with their favorite item, it will help and don't give in. You have to follow through or he will walk all over you. Boys think potty talk is hysterical and I don't know why but it does happen. Try that -- watch SuperNanny she has good tips about this stuff.

Hi A.,
I know you asked this a couple days ago but I just saw it and have a suggestion to offer. My four year old is very stubborn and he would drive me crazy when we would go out to the store etc. He would do one naughty thing after another and discipline is difficult in a store. So we bought a kitchen timer and now every time he's naughty at the store I give him two minutes in time out when we get home. (Maybe one minute would be better for you b/c you're little guy is younger.) Anyway, I find it works b/c it's easy to follow through with and he does the time out and then it's over with (I don't have to remember if I took away sweets or tv and then listen to him whine about it the rest of the day.) And it works too. The first time I tried it he was in time out for 30 minutes when we got home which took the "funny" right out of the bad behavior! Now he's much better in stores.

Hi A.,
Be consistent and a time-out or some other punishment for his "potty mouth" is OK. I would just start taking away his favorite toys or giving him a time-out and be sure to explain to him why these things are happening. I agree not giving it to much attention because of course they see they've gotten a rise out of you, but definitely be consistent and you may ignore it in the fact that you are not over the top when he say's it, but definitely don't ignore it in the fact that a punishment of some kind is needed. Give him the "it's not nice to say those things and if you do..." XY&Z will happen. I wish you the best of luck, I am sure it's the influence of the older kids to a point, but it also could be him testing the waters as well.

Hi A.,
I wouldn't worry to much about it. I think most toddlers go through that phase (especially boys). He'll outgrow it. If it really bothers you, maybe you could start giving him time outs. I know it can be embarrassing when your child is calling people poop names but I think most people are pretty understanding about it:)
Good luck!

I'm sorry but I had to chuckle! That is cute. I think every kid especially at 2-4 years of age go through this. People don't take it serious or personal & be thankful he is not using real profanity!
I have an 18 month old son and I am sure I will go through this phase too & I know for you it is not funny. But I think time outs for your son at his age are very appropriate as long as you are consistent. I find with my son if I don't make a big deal out of things & try my best to ignore it he'd stop. They want to get a rise out of you & see how far they can go.
So simple time out, just say your going for a time out for using that word for 3 minutes. Walk away without saying another word. He moves from time out put him back without saying a single word. Then when the time out is done go to him tell him exactly why he was in time out & give him a hug. Don't make a big ta-do. This works for my niece every time & has worked for my 18 month old as well even though he is still too young to really understand I think he actually does!

Hi A.-
My 4 year old picked this up in preschool too-- everything is poopy-head, kaka-head, etc... (It's comforting to know how universal it is, I guess), and now he has my 2 1/2 year old daughter doing the same thing around the house-- I'm sure the other parents in her toddler class will be thrilled ;) The kids think it's hysterical, and we ignore it as much as possible. If it's really going on and on, I'll send him to the bathroom (potty words in the potty)-- and he'll stand in there and yell about poop and pee until he's done. The thing is, he also does this with other words ("pancake-head" etc...)to be "silly", but I think he gets the most reaction from bad words, so that's what continues...
I'm putting it into the category of "this too shall pass"...
Good luck and hang in there!

It is pretty funny! When it's not your child. My daughter went through this about a year ago. I took a firm approach and told her that those were bathroom words and could only be used in the bathroom. When she'd say one I would bring her to the bathroom and sit with her in there. I would let her say whatever "potty words" she wanted while we were in there. It kind of turned into a game- but it took the fun out of the words. Knowing there was a place that she was allowed to say them made them less interesting.
Now if she hears others say naughty words- she'll tell them that those are only allowed in the bathroom!
Good luck,

I have a 2.4 year old that learns all sorts of fun things from his older brothers that are 4 and 10. His favorite for a while was to call everyone he came in contact with a poopy head, and I mean everyone. If he said hi or bye it was followed with poopy head.Being that he is # 3 I knew not to make much of it and in public I would just say to the person he said it to " he means that in the nicest way possible" LOL.It certainly doesnt help a whole lot when the other boys laughed at him and my husband would say it back to him, but even with all the outside encouragement he did stop saying it because it was no longer as funny as it was in the beginning, now I just wait for the next oh sooo funny thing to start,lol. Good luck.

Sounds like you started by doing the correct things. Ignoring him is the key.
Unfortunately, 3 yrs old is the age when children begin using 'potty talk'. Some do and some don't. I'm sure at preschool your son is a laugh a minute according to the other children.
I taught preschool for awhile and the best you can do is ignore the behavior. If it gets a bit out of hand, you can tell him 'that isn't appropriate' If you've take him somewhere he is enjoying and the language comes out, you tell him it isn't appropriate to speak this way and remove him immediately from the activity, place, party etc. He'll catch on pretty quick.

My daughter did this and it was actually her teacher who said she could use those words ONLY in the bathroom, as they are "bathroom words." This has worked way better than I would have thought. It allows her to use them in the appropriate context (which is always more effective than never allowing them), but avoids the embarrassing situations! Also, try not to get upset, just go into reminder-mode so that he doesn't think he is getting a rise out of you (which can be funny). Good luck!

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