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Potty Mouth

Guest Blogger Carissa Knoles 

name the giraffe — —- and the gorilla —-. My Mommy and Daddy say those names. I
like them. Then they can be the Mommy and Daddy animals and we can name the
kids Sweetie and Cutie, ok?” Feel free to fill in the blanks. This long-winded
4-year-old innocently plays with a peer, whose eyes are as wide as saucers as
he looks around the room to see if a teacher has heard what many children refer
to as “potty words.” Between the ages of 18 and 24 months, children go from
knowing approximately 15 words to 150! The question is, how do children learn to
include such inappropriate language and what does one do to stop it? As found
in the article “Children Are Swearing More Often, At an Earlier Age,” (Psych
Central News, 2010) Psychologist Timothy Jay conducted a study concluding that
nearly two-thirds of adults that have rules about their children swearing frequently
break their own rules.  In fact, .07
percent of an adult’s daily speech is filled with 1 of the 70 common taboo
words in the English language. As one can conclude from the above observation
of 2 preschoolers naming their animals, such “potty words” are no longer only
for Mommy and Daddy. “By the time kids go to school now, they’re saying all the
words that we try to protect them from on television. We find their swearing
really takes off between (ages) three and four,” says Jay.
a parent to do? First and foremost, stop swearing! Child Development research
tells us that children are learning and exploring constantly, especially under
the age of 5. Parents are their child’s first teachers.  One parent shares that any time anyone in the
house says a “bad word,” they have to drop a quarter in a jar. While that may
be an appropriate consequence for a teenager who loses quarters from their hard
earned paycheck, it is not developmentally appropriate to take a coin from the
piggy bank of a 3 year old.  A 5-year-old
shares with his teacher, “When I say bad words, I get hot stuff in my mouth and
I go to time out.” That sort of “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality sends
mixed messages. Children learn through observing the behaviors of the world and
those in it. They imitate behaviors of those who love and care for them.  In addition to avoiding using such language
in front of young children, when children do try out those “potty words” inform
them that it is not a respectful thing to say.
Provide them with appropriate ways to express feelings verbally or
physically, such as stomping their feet or taking deep breaths.  If said child decides to keep those dirty
words coming, ignore the negative behavior and redirect to something new.
are going to hear inappropriate words- it’s a part of growing up in 2012.  Use teachable moments to imitate respectful
behavior and vocabulary, and you’ll be raising a healthy child with a clean

Carissa Knoles holds a BGS in Children and Families from the University of Michigan. She also has over 6 years experience working in NAEYC Accredited Early Childhood programs and is pursuing further education in Early Childhood and Music Therapy. Carissa is the secretary of the Metro Detroit Association of the Education of Young children in addition to providing music enrichment programs in the Metro Detroit area. Working as an advocate for Early Childhood Education through both music and leadership is a dream come true for Carissa. You can find out more about Music with Ms. Carissa by visiting!  

Amber Louchart
Author: Amber Louchart

Amber is the proud mother to four beautiful children, Damian (27), Rosaleigh (14), Carlyn (11), and Naomi (8). Her family also includes four cats. She loves being a stay-at-home mom and feels blessed to be able to care for her children full-time and provide them with so many opportunities through Metro Detroit Mommy. In addition to Metro Detroit Mommy, Amber has a passion for hosting karaoke with Malibu Entertainment.  She enjoys the metro Detroit nightlife especially, singing, dancing and meeting new people.