Honestly, it’s not your fault! Children seem to have a natural fascination with toilets, bodily functions and nudity. It develops through the early school years – and it usually intersects with their growing sense of humour. Part of it is ‘proto-sexual’ behaviour, but a bigger part is the thrill of pushing the boundaries of taboos. As little people they discover they have an amazing power to shock and embarrass big people – some of us never quite grow out of the fun of that!

Regardless of how broad-minded you may be as an adult, it is unkind to send children into the world without a clear sense of what is appropriate behaviour. It would be sad if their fantastic sense of humour got them into real trouble or made others think less of them. Not only do they need to learn the ‘limits’, they should also gain a sense of the underlying reasons for these rules, which are chiefly their own dignity and respect for others.

Here are some phrases you can use –

  • “You can use all the words you hear me use, but you can’t use that one.”
  • “That’s toilet talk. You’ll have to go and sit on the toilet if you want to talk like that.”
  • “It hurts my feelings to hear you talk like that.”
  • “You are a clever person, you don’t need to tell jokes like that to make others laugh.”
  • “Perhaps you only said that for fun, but I want you to know that what you are joking about is actually something special and serious. I don’t want to hear you making jokes about it.”
  • “Yes, that is funny. But I don’t like jokes like that.”

I hope you realise that we are not wanting to staunch their sense of humour. But there is a line. You are training them to know where the line is and helping them to stay on the right side of it.

For more, check out John’s corner.

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John Cowan

Writer, speaker and broadcaster, John Cowan shares his insight and opinions about the latest in parenting and family news in New Zealand. Hear John speak on radio stations every week throughout the country and regularly on national TV.  Follow @JohnCowanNZ on Twitter

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