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Kid Slang

Andrea Fuller thought it would be fun to show her son Jackson, 9, one of his baby photos. "He said, 'OMG, that's spectacular!'" Fuller, of San Francisco, says. OMG, of course, stands for "Oh, my God" -- a term Jackson's used a lot lately. "His friends say it, too," she adds. "I guess it's the age."

She's right. Once they hit grade school, kids start tossing around slang like verbal Koosh balls. Robin Altman, M.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Reading, PA, has the 411 on why: "They want to fit in, so if they hear a friend or someone cool on TV using an expression, they'll work it into their own conversations," she says. Just be prepared for an earful of "BFF" and "Snap!" Dr. Altman warns: "Grade-schoolers don't get that slang is cooler if used sparingly."

Try to grin and bear it, but that doesn't mean you should put up with your kid saying karate class "sucks" or that he's "P.O.'d" about his bedtime. "Give a warning, then take away a privilege, like playing video games, if you hear objectionable slang," Dr. Altman advises (a strategy that got her own sons to stop recommending she "talk to the hand"). It may make for a little awkwardness now, but years later you'll both look back and LOL over this quirky phase.

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