My five years old daughter sometime farts silently, and she doesn't excuse herself. Every time I detect such a situation, I remind her that she should try to avoid it and leave the room, going to a toilet, but if she fails to do that, she should excuse herself.

My wife says this is wrong. She claims that we need to keep teaching our kids (that one and younger one) that they should hold in the gas and leave to toilet, but if any escapes, they should remain silent. In my wife's opinion, excusing oneself for farting in a quite young kid is a bad attitude.

Which one of us is right? Is there any general advice to handle such situations?

  • 6
    The other approach: "Fart for freedom, fart for liberty--and fart proudly." -B.Franklin
    – geometrian
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 3:42
  • 4
    it's just a bit of methane, why should she apologize for it?
    – zzzzBov
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 4:31
  • 1
    @all I haven't got even a bit idea, that my simple question is going to bring so much attention. Thank you everyone for so many interesting and enlightening answers and comments!
    – trejder
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 10:27
  • 7
    She should be taught how to direct the blame to someone else in the room.
    – Mark Adler
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 15:36
  • 3
    Sigh. Yes, of course I was joking.
    – Mark Adler
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 21:12

6 Answers 6


I think that there are some people you should be comfortable with, comfortable enough to pass gas in their general vicinity and not have to apologize. And the closest family should certainly be such people. At home, when I'm not alone, I try to do it in the toilet, though I don't feel bad or ashamed to let one go when my wife or LO is near. Seriously, farting is natural, don't make it such a bad thing.

As for other places or situations - I think that the child should excuse if he farts loudly. It's nothing to be ashamed of, but it's not good manners either. Make sure to stress that it's not a crime or something very, very bad.

I don't think less of people who have accidentally loudly farted in my presence. Noone should, I guess.

  • 6
    In China, for example, everyone farts whenever they wish, be it in their toilet or overcrowded bus. No one minds. :) Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 7:23
  • Interesting, that most upvoted answer is given by a person from the same country as me! :> Thank you for this one, but I hope this question and all the answers will benefit also people from other parts of the world. Like... from China for example! :>
    – trejder
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 10:31
  • @SergioTulentsev With their number of people (per square meter), I can imagine, that this is natural! If they would excude for every particular fart, they would say nothing else than "Excuce"! :>
    – trejder
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 10:40
  • @trejder well this is an opinion question, not "how is farting perceived accross the world", and I've given you my opinion.
    – Dariusz
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 13:26
  • @SergioTulentsev this is true but having been to China several times I have noticed they also smoke and spit just about everywhere as well. Excluded places would be very high end hotels or government buildings. Different standards indeed.
    – ug_
    Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 2:03

I encourage my kids to excuse themselves when they pass gas. (Obviously the best-case scenario is that they are able to release it in the bathroom instead, but things happen.) I have a few goals with this: acknowledging that there's going to be a brief bad smell in the room, accepting responsibility for it, and begging pardon for inflicting it on the other people in the room.

I feel that encouraging silence instead of acknowledgment completely misses the second and third goals. There's very little chance that the smell will not be noticed if there are other people in the room, and especially if there are other kids around this can lead to a great deal of blaming, arguing, and bad feeling. This can be avoided by a brief apology before the smell really spreads.

There are different kinds of acknowledgment, however. I would consider a simple "excuse me" to be polite. If they proclaim "EXCUSE ME, I HAVE JUST FARTED AND IT WILL PROBABLY STINK," or "I farted! [endless laughter]"... that isn't helpful.

My goal is to get them to understand that this is something that can happen to anybody, and it shouldn't be a gigantic source of embarrassment or shame, but it should also be dealt with rapidly and briefly so everybody can just get over it and move on with their lives. This isn't particularly easy, because kids tend to find bodily functions both highly amusing and highly embarrassing, but we're working on it.


She should try to leave the room or the crowd if you're trying to avoid impropriety. A toilet is unnecessary when simply away from prying olfactory senses would do.

Now to the meat of the issue: Stating that it is wrong or bad for a child, teen, or adult to pass gas is the same as stating it is wrong for them to sneeze or cough in public. If society as a majority would stop promoting negativity towards involuntary bodily functions, this question wouldn't even exist. Some people are gassy. This plays more into diet than biology, but that is another topic. They belch and/or pass gas after eating during the course of the normal digestive process. This is involuntary. Forcing them to hold it in or face the consequence of societal embarrassment is, quite simply, antiquated.

Hey look, articles. Holding it in can lead to health issues. Teaching a child to hold it in only compounds the issue. I'll leave this to the health nuts:

Why You Shouldn't Suppress the Urge to Burp or Pass Gas

Holding in flatulence can make you sick

Holding in Intestinal Gas

  • 4
    Agreed. If I had to run to the bathroom every time I had to pass gas, some days I wouldn't get anything done.
    – Michael
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 1:04
  • Nobody (at least, not me) says nothing about holding. Or running to the toiled everytime. My question is entirely about, if kid fart in a crowdy place, should he or she excuse or not.
    – trejder
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 10:30

Miss Manners agrees with your wife: "unacceptable noises" (her term) should be "acknowledged by neither the noisemaker nor the noise recipient".

  • The issue in this problem is "Silent but deadly" issues. Not "unacceptable noises". Closely related, but I don't think "Miss Manners" rules apply here per-se. I didn't see anything in a quick search where she talks about "Silent but deadly" situations.
    – WernerCD
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 16:19
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    I think that would still apply (the fact that it's a smell and not a noise doesn't change the fact that it's "socially unacceptable" and therefore to be ignored). (That said, I disagree on the 'socially unacceptable', but I'm happy to upvote as it's a good answer if you do feel that way.)
    – Joe
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 16:51
  • Miss Manners was also writing in the late 1930s. I don't think she can be considered an authority on social acceptability in 2014.
    – Dancrumb
    Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 20:17
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    @Dancrumb: Judith Martin (aka Miss Manners) was born in 1938 so if she was writing in the late 1930s she was an extremely precocious child. (Perhaps you were thinking of Emily Post?) The book I cited above was published ("freshly updated") in 2011. Commented Oct 30, 2014 at 20:41
  • @NateEldredge I still agree with Dancrumb. Person, who was born in late thirties and get her expertise somewhere between 1960-1970 might not have very much to say about social behavior of 2010-2020, right...
    – trejder
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 10:26

I agree with the wife. Even though, Farting is very common, sadly our society does show hypocrisy in accepting it resulting in embarrasement. So the best method is to fart in toilet, but if by chance a person farts in public, unless asked why should he holler in front of everyone " Excuse Me, In case you are wondering, I just wanted to let all of you know thats its ME who farted :) " Quite unnecassary and not needed. Isnt it?Its better to be silent.

  • Try to see the case this way... I have two daughters. Whenever older farts siletnly without any excuse I need a few seconds, after detecting the problem, to find out, whether it was elder's fart or whether younger's diaper requires immediate replacement. :> Got my point, right? :>
    – trejder
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 10:34
  • @trejder That is a special case, usually there is no practical benefit to knowing who farted. Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 9:43
  • @eBusiness Read again. Yes, there is a certain benefit. In my case, I don't want to know, who farted. I want to know, whether older farted or younger made a goo and need her diper to be replaced urgently.
    – trejder
    Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 19:26
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    @trejder Your question is about etiquette, and I do most certainly not believe that you should teach your daughter etiquette based on your personal diaper diagnosis issues. If you need to know, ask her, but don't shoehorn etiquette into this if diapers is your real issue. Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 20:36
  • @trejder It's your job to check the diaper. It is not a child's job to admit to what is obviously, for some, a social faux pas (for people that didn't grow up with a flactalunt father, I guess).
    – Mazura
    Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 22:07

Sorry to write that, but I think your wife is right. You have no right (it's impolite on your part) to demand that your daughter talk about her own flatulence (even indirectly through an excuse). There could be shame associated with that talking, especially with females. And then, your daughter could associate you with that feeling of shame.

And another important thing: Females hate being criticized. Your daughter will be a woman and she could very well remember your words in 30 years from now. She might remember it as criticism, and you don't want her to associate this with you forever.

I'd suggest relaxing and letting another person handle this part of education: your wife, your daughter's friends or teachers later in life.

Also, I never heard anyone excuse themselves for a fart. For the "listeners" of a fart it's polite to pretend they didn't hear it or smell it. For the farting person it's polite to not further disturb by talking about his or her farting - even indirectly.

Generally, I also think it's kind of ridiculous because by your rule the mouth would be forced to speak after the bottom "spoke"? That would invert the desired control of our body so that the lower part dictates the higher part.

  • 5
    To be honest, I have a range of problems with this answer, even though I agree with the result. You seem to be suggesting that girls or women in general are extremely sensitive, and should not be presented any criticism. But how should they learn to deal with it by themselves? And are you really saying you should not tell your daughter when she made a mistake because she might remember you in a bad way 30 years later? If she does, that's not because of what was said, but how it was said.
    – mafu
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 3:11
  • ...and to add few words to mafutrct's comment... you certainly don't have to sorry, that I agree with my wife! :> I get used to it, that she is right... in most cases! :>
    – trejder
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 10:35
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    "Females" are capable of taking, accepting, and growing from criticism from either fathers or mothers, provided it is constructive and not pejorative. Female friends "later in life" (middle childhood, teenage years) are far more likely to be cruel and mean-spirited educators about dealing with flatulence (ewww, you farted! so disgusting! and gossiping about how their "friend" is a farter) than a parent. Farts happen from infancy on, and giving a child no guidance on how to cope gracefully (thus avoiding shame) sounds cruel.
    – Acire
    Commented Oct 31, 2014 at 11:30
  • 1
    Yeah cos males love being criticised. Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 22:16

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