I have no idea how or when it started, but I think my boys may just be the Kings of toilet talk. I'm sure it started innocently enough, it is likely that we all shared a giggle and a wink wink, nudge nudge moment or two in those early days, but after years of tolerating it, my toilet talk wick is so short that any humour that once might have alleviated my frustration is rapidly extinguished and a hot ember of annoyance is all that remains.
After several years of hearing my kids literally talk about sh*t, I think I may have finally figured out how to curb the vocab without quashing their need for self-expression. We call it TTT - Toilet Talk Time 💥 💩
TTT = a 5 minute verbal spew of of unabashed, unbridled and often non-nonsensical toilet talk that gets it out of their system. They get to say all those words and phrases that they've been wanting to test out loud that are not normally deemed appropriate to say and would make grandma cringe.
We've been trying it out for about a week now and holy heck I can tell you that for us, it is working. Here is why I think it is a winner:
- It gives them permission to explore language - It is important for kids to learn to know what words are okay to use, either alone or in combo with other words, and when it is okay to use them. I would much rather they test their vocabularic (not sure that is a word but let's run with it!) boundaries at home rather than in the classroom because context is everything and I want to help them figure out what is okay and what is not
Boundaries are still being set - You are not giving Carte Blanche for them to talk filth any time they like. This is their window, their very narrow and specific window, when their mouths get to run riot. You can of course choose to set rules that restrict the language they use, such as not using swear words or any other word that you are not okay with.
It re-directs frustration and punishment - Instead of telling off your child when an inappropriate word slips out, you get to say "hey buddy, it's not TTT yet, hang on until x o'clock when you can use that word as many times as you like for 5 minutes, but now isn't the right time, okay?" I cannot WAIT for you to experience the feeling that you get when they respond to this! It feels SO GOOD to not have an alternative to "no" or "stop that". It is like giving them a different path forward and EVERY TIME my kid's have chosen to wait rather than continue with their verbal incontinence.
It brings humour back into the equation - I have yet to meet a parent that didn't find toilet talk amusing the first time it came out of their child's sweet little mouth. However once you hear "I wanna sniff your butt crack" shouted full volume at 4.30pm in the checkout line, humour can quickly turn to horror 😱 After an experience like this it can be really hard to be easy going and jokey jokey about toilet chat that might otherwise be mildly amusing. As a parent it is natural to feel like we need to harness our super serious side to prevent such embarrassment from happening again. In doing so however we are missing out on some pretty funny moments that might otherwise be shared with our child. Some of the stuff that my kids come up is hilarious and nonsensical and have brought a lot of laughter. This article is an excellent read as to why humour is part and parcel of toilet talk and why it is so essential to children's development.
It gets it out of their system - Kids will be kids, they need to be kids, and according to research, toilet talk (or "potty talk" if you are in the Northern Hemisphere) is an essential part of a child's cognitive development. If you have been fraught with worry about why your kid talks trash, this article may put your mind at rest
So how about implementation? This is what has worked for us.
Day 1 after Toilet Talk has reared it's ugly head - "hey it is clear that you really feel that you need to say these words so I'm going to set the timer and for 5 minutes you can say whatever silly words you like (except for ......) so long as after 5 minutes we stop ok? It is likely they will go a bit crazy and very silly but this is the point, let them purge it all from their system. It is amazing how they seem to run out of steam pretty early into the 5 mins 😅
On Day 2 and beyond continue to give them their 5 minutes of TTT but if they slip up and use inappropriate language outside of that window, explain that they won't get TTT for that day. If they continue with similar vocab outside of TTT gently escort them to the toilet and let them know that if they want to continue talking in that way, this is where they can hang out.
Oooh, as an extra bonus, feel free to include any other annoying behaviour in TTT. We have bundled fake burps in there as well ✊