Walking to preschool one day, Levi Simon, 3, noticed a "no parking" sign -- a "P" with a line through it. Minutes later, he gleefully told pals of the "no pee-pee" zone. "Levi thinks it's extremely funny to insert 'poop' and 'pee-pee' into everything," sighs his mom, Marisa Schwartz, of Brooklyn. Of course he does, says Tufts University child-development professor W. George Scarlett, Ph.D. "Kids play at what they've just mastered. Potty humor is sometimes a celebration of toilet training." To teach kids how to limit that hurrah to appropriate occasions:
Pick your battles
Believe it or not, toilet humor helps kids chill in times of stress. "A lot of humor is being irreverent; that gives us control over anxiety," Scarlett says. Sometimes, just let it go.
Keep a poker face
Kids are notorious for staging encores of behaviors that grab attention. Scarlett says that if you avoid big reactions, like cracking up or scolding, your kid may be more inclined to tone down the jokes.
When poo-poo chat is a no-no, calmly set boundaries. Saying "I'm uncomfortable with that joke at the dinner table" instead of "You can't say that at the dinner table" sends the message that it's fine to think poop's funny, it's just not the time or place to express it.