I have two sons, ages six and eight. They're both at an age where potty humor (jokes about bodily functions, to put it politely) are the funniest thing in the world.

I know that here in North America we generally discourage this kind of behavior in our kids. So that got me thinking: why do we do this?

The only reason I can come up with is that it will make some people who overhear it uncomfortable, which I can understand and which is not a bad reason for refraining from making jokes like this.

Are there other reasons for this that I'm overlooking?

EDIT In order to address the suggested closure reason (Off Topic) from @Becuzz, I offer the following explanation...

The question posed here is not

why does society frown on this type of humor?

The question intended is actually

Society tells me that I should parent in a certain way (ie. by discouraging potty humor). Please explain the reasons behind this social norm so that I can evaluate it and determine if I wish to follow it.

This is a rule that others (people around me in society) have told me I should be imposing on my children. I prefer not to blindly accept rules like this - I want to understand the reasons behind them in order to determine if they are acceptable to me and my family.

  • I'm really interested in a good answer. I also have sons in that age bracket. I'm actually building this kind of humor into some of the bed time stories I invent for them, to much head-shaking from my wife. I admit I don't really see the problem. They laugh themselves silly, I'm having fun watching them giggling. We do try to teach them in what kind of situations that kind of humor isn't welcome, though (like when we're in the middle of eating dinner). Jun 14, 2017 at 21:36
  • There are actually children's books that pick it up, too: The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew It Was None of His Business is quite popular. Jun 14, 2017 at 21:47
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this isn't about parenting (though it did come up because of parenting). The question is "Why do we discourage potty humor in our society?". And that isn't a parenting question.
    – Becuzz
    Jun 15, 2017 at 10:42
  • @Becuzz Why would´nt it be a parenting question. It is a rather good one.
    – Divisadero
    Jun 15, 2017 at 10:51
  • @Divisadero The (parenting) reason this came up is purely anecdotal to the question being asked. If that were edited out it wouldn't change the question being asked at all. Reread the question but omit the first paragraph and the mention of kids in the second paragraph. The question hasn't changed, but it is no longer appropriate for a parenting site. Just because a child was involved in prompting the question doesn't inherently make it appropriate.
    – Becuzz
    Jun 15, 2017 at 10:56

2 Answers 2


As far as I am aware, it is simply due to some people's sensitivities to such things. I have boys in ages where they find it hilarious too. I simply try to remind them that there are places where it's okay & places where it's not. My rule of thumb with them is that if you can burp without excusing yourself, then feel free to use potty humor in that same situation. If not, then refrain, no matter how funny you may find it. In fact I am often far worse than them when we get goofing around. That said, I am also a woman that suffered hyperemesis while pregnant, which is excessive & long standing nausea & vomiting. Once that hit me, I never again wondered why we try to maintain a certain politeness, as all things were enough to get me started, because I was constantly fighting an urge to vomit. I stayed home most of the time, but I couldn't stay home all of the time, and it was so stressful to venture out & hope you don't throw up. Anyway, it also is the reason I have taught my boys you absolutely do not spit in public. I had a man spit near me in a parking lot & it triggered a cycle of vomiting that lasted over an hour before I could get that reflex to stop. So I remind them of that sort of thing. Many people aren't just prudish, they are actually just trying to get through, whether it's pregnancy, chemo, or whatever. So I err on the side of not grossing people out, not for the squeamish types, but for those that really might suffer as a result of it.

That said I have no clue if they follow all that when I am not around to remind them. I think they do. I hope so. They were stuck watching my parking lot episode, so I think they were just as traumatized as I was.

  • Probably a cultural thing also, but I can't think of any situation in which burping is acceptable. With or without an excuse. Jun 15, 2017 at 14:05
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    In our home, when my kids are around their friends, etc, they burp all the time, often on purpose. For us, that is acceptable. I think that will vary house to house. My mother would never have permitted that, but we had very very strict rules & even words like "sucks" weren't permitted. I am not nearly as bothered by those things as she is. I also raise my kids to respect gramma's sensibilities & we are more careful what we say & how we act when she visits or when we visit her. They seem to have always been able to grasp the difference in house rules & "company" rules just fine.
    – threetimes
    Jun 15, 2017 at 15:44
  • Thanks for the anecdote - I hadn't thought about people who might have a physical reaction to things like this. I shared it with my boys last night, and we got into a discussion of the ways mind & body affect each other and morning sickness (which they were asking more questions about at bedtime a couple of hours later :-)
    – Kryten
    Jun 16, 2017 at 19:21

Not just America. It's the same everywhere. The only reason I can think of is that the many adults are quite sensitive to this - especially when these jokes are cracked in a party or at meal time. Since these kids grow up hearing that potty humor is in bad taste, they may find it off-putting if some other child does it when they are all grown up

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