Moms, a piece of advice: Pretend you're the grown-up!
Gay Uncle Brett Berk: One of my colleagues here at momlogic recently posted a piece about washing her son's mouth out with soap. Apparently, the boy wouldn't stop saying things like "poop," "poo-poo," and "poopie," and the mom wouldn't stop letting this behavior annoy her: a perfect swirly of brinksmanship. So once the kid inevitably crossed the line a final time, Mom squirted some pineapple hand soap into his mouth and had him swish it around. The outcome? The boy pumped his fist and said, "YES! I ate soap!"
I would like to give this mom a piece of advice: Dial it Down. Why?
1) Stooping to your child's level to engage in inane battles -- and then allowing their behavior to incite you to perform irrational and potentially injurious acts -- leads to nothing but further conflict.
2) Like using torture to acquire sensitive information, or employing the death penalty to deter future murders, extreme practices like soap-gargling may provide a fleeting sense of vindication, but they're completely ineffectual in achieving their goals. Studies prove it. (If you're a doubter, just note the boy's reaction.)
3) Getting so out of control that you're reduced to behaving this way demeans you as a human and undermines your authority as a parent. Your job is to model control, and to employ effective discipline that will help your child find their center. Remember my mantra: "PRETEND YOU'RE THE GROWN-UP!"
4) Soaping out a "dirty" mouth is both retro and metaphorical, neither of which means anything to a young kid.
So what to do instead? Well, for starters, I'd suggest that you not worry so much about your kid saying words like "poop." (Ever heard the expression, "Choose your battles"?) Still, if you think it's not appropriate, say so. But keep your invocations calm and straightforward, and then let it lie. If you lose your mind every time your child says something you don't approve of, they're going to quickly learn that this is an excellent way to get a rise out of you, and this will only encourage them to do it more. If you've already dug yourself into this hole, or find they're cursing to accomplish this end, your best bet is to calmly tell them once that it's inappropriate, and then ignore it. It may take a while, but I f$%#ing swear it will go away.
|Brett Berk, M.S. Ed., has worked with young children and their families for over 20 years--as a classroom teacher, preschool director, and research consultant--and is the author of "The Gay Uncle's Guide to Parenting."|