My 4-year-old has been really gassy lately, and has gotten the bad habit of farting loudly while laughing about it. After more than a few funny but embarrassing moments, we tried to tell her how it was unladylike and she shouldn't do it so loudly and jokingly around people. Well, now she says she is uncomfortable all the time because she is holding it in and we feel bad. Is this anything to even worry about at all, or is there any good advice out there for dealing with a gassy child?
My 4-year-old son has recently discovered the joys of farting, though we haven't had any embarrassing farting scenes in public yet.
There is no middle-ground for 4-year-olds. It's sort of an all or nothing kind of thing which means either she's going to hold it in or it's probably going to be loud.
It might be worth it to try teaching her to excuse herself to go to the restroom if she needs to pass gas. Of course, if she's exceptionally gassy, this could lead to multiple trips to the bathroom and curious looks from friends and acquaintances if you're out with a group.
If her gas is really that bad, then it might be worth investigating the cause of the gas. This site lists the most common causes of gassiness in children. The most common cause is lactose intolerance, but carbonated drinks, IBS, and Crohn's disease are also other (much less common) causes. Or it might be linked to certain foods she eats. The most common offenders for gassiness are:
- milk and dairy products
- starchy foods like potatoes and pasta
- wheat and oat bran
- foods sweetened with artificial sweeteners
- bananas, peaches, apricots, pears, and raw apples
- raisins and melons
- prunes and prune juice
- colas and fruit drinks sweetened with fructose
- beans and lentils
- onions, green peppers, shallots, and scallions
- cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and peas
- corn, celery, artichokes, asparagus, and carrots
She might not get gassy from all of these foods. Also remember that swallowing too much air when eating can cause gassiness, so making sure that she's taking her time while she eats and chews her food thoroughly might be somewhat helpful.
I believe most kids around that age (ours included) think farts are a joy to be shared with everyone.
The main thing we've focused on so far is that "farting is normal", and to make sure to say "excuse me" afterwards. Generally, the amount of laughter and attention he gives to it relates to how much laughter and attention we, his parents, have recently given it. The excitement and embarrassment around it seems to gradually go away as long as we keep our own reactions in check. We usually just have to remind him once in a while with a quiet "what do you say?" after we hear him pass gas.
I'd like to add that by telling her it's not "lady-like" perpetuates the idea that it's ok for boys, not for girls. Historically, seixist cultivation in small children is due in part to physical restrictions for girls, such as not letting girls be loud, run about, or pass gas with out reprehention.