“Billy, what are you
going to be for Halloween?” asks Jane.
“Doo doo face,” says Billy, and both children laugh.
Young children think it’s funny to say such words as “doo doo,” “pee
pee,” “boobies,” and “butt.” The words are not quite “bad,” but to
children they have their power. They use bathroom language when they
feel silly or need a quick way to be funny and make their friends
laugh. The words also provide a way of releasing tension and getting
attention. A child might use bathroom words more than usual when
there’s a new baby in her family, when she’s unhappy in day care or
school, or when she wants the attention of a friend who’s playing
with someone else. Using these words often does bring a child
instant attention from adults and friends.
Different parents have different reactions to bathroom language.
Some just shrug their shoulders and ignore the words. Others are
annoyed or embarrassed and wonder where their child learned such
language. They worry that she will be reprimanded by a teacher or
caregiver, and wonder if her use of bathroom language is a
reflection on their parenting.
You should feel reassured to know that all children use bathroom
words, which they hear and repeat on the playground. It’s almost
impossible to delete the words from your child’s vocabulary. The
best you can do is set limits by saying, “I don’t want you to talk
that way in the house,” or simply, “I don’t want to listen to you
using those words.” But don’t dwell on the fact that she’s using
bathroom language. This is just normal preschool silliness.