I'm not sure if every child goes through this so I won't make a blanket statement. Some kids go through a phase when they learn words like "snot" or "booty" or "poop" that saying it makes them giggle and they and their friends often use this dirty talk in all sorts of conversation pieces.

My son (almost seven years old) has been in this phase for a year or so now and while his peers have moved on and are finally wanting to converse about other things, he often replies with some form of this dirty talk. From what I can tell among his peers, it's getting kind of old. Also for the adults in his life, to include us (his parents), his friends parents, and his teachers, we're getting kind of exhausted of hearing every other thing being "poopy" or "snotty".

I've tried the talk encouraging him to move on. We've encouraged him to talk about other things with his friends and while sometimes he does it always seems to revert back. When he mentions it at the dinner table, it gets a stop put to it immediately. We also don't participate in it nor do we laugh.

How can we encourage him to move past this once and for all?

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Kids love to shock adults. It's a kind of power, and for a child, finding something that gives you power over adults is a heady discovery. There isn't any way to lessen the power value, other than completely ignoring it, which is possible if you are alone but you can't do anything about other peoples' reaction.

I'm guessing that the only way you are going to get him to quit, aside from just waiting until peer pressure does the job (an iffy solution, at best. As they approach their teens they are usually apt to get more foul mouthed than less) is to make it too costly.

You could brand it "baby talk" and tell him that if he is going to talk like a baby he will be treated like a baby. "Babies think words like that are funny but grownups don't." (Okay, I know, my nose is growing right now, but I don't let my kids watch those movies if I can help it)

Punishment may be an option, though I'd deem it a last resort. It's also going to cost you; if you lay down the line when you are at a friend's house, or out to dinner, and you say "if you say a bad word we're going home, no more playing..." you have to absolutely commit to that because if you only enforce it sometimes you'll be worse off than if you did nothing.

My recommendation would be a combination of positive and negative reinforcement. Explain to him that you don't find the words funny and you don't like hearing them. Put a little jar full of nickels on the refrigerator (call it the "fun jar", this is the positive reinforcement) and take one out every time you hear one of the forbidden words come out of his mouth (the negative). At the end of the week, if there are enough nickels left (or marbles, or whatever you want to use to count down) there will be ice cream. Or a movie. Or some other not-too-expensive but fun treat. Have you ever said a bad word in front of him? Great! (No, seriously). Put up a jar for everyone in the house and give him the opportunity to correct you, it seems to help them self correct if they find themselves in the position of correcting others. It would also offer a power exchange, allowing him to trade the "power to shock" for the power to "take your marbles away" if you "misbehave".

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