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I've got a potty-mouthed, back-talking 3 year old—help!

Erin Zammett Ruddy

Alex is going through a fresh-talk phase. Fresh as in he speaks like a moody teenager, complete with ughs and eye rolls and makes me want to pull out my hair. Some of it I can blame on his cousin, who’s seven and prone to a little backtalk himself (and anything Andrew does, Alex must do because he idolizes him). Some of it I can blame on his grandparents (“Papa, you can’t say f—k!” Alex said the other night while listening to my dad tell me a story—thanks, Dad!). Some of it I can blame on his friends at school (I can, right?). And, yes, most of it I can blame on myself and Nick. We definitely don’t censor ourselves as much as we should (in all fairness to my dad, Alex had heard that word many times before, though curse words really aren’t the issue). And Alex is sharp. Too sharp for his own good. He’s always been very verbal and has a great vocabulary but it seems lately he’s using that vocabulary for evil. It’s embarrassing and it makes Nick and me feel like we’re terrible parents. Which I honestly don’t think we are, apart from dropping the occasional f-bomb in front of our babies. Here are some of Alex’s phrases du jour:


“You gotta be kidding me.”

He says this about 10 times an hour, even when it doesn’t make much sense (e.g., I’ll say “Alex, look at those pretty Christmas lights on that house,” and he’ll say, “You gotta be kidding me, mom!”). I’ve tried to explain to him that it’s not a nice thing to say, that it’s kind of obnoxious, but I’ve had little success. (I’m pretty sure he gets this gem from just about every person in my family.)



“If you don’t turn this car around right now I will kill you. Dead.”

Over the Thanksgiving holiday we thought it would be fun to watch a movie together as a family and chose How to Train Your Dragon. Unfortunately all they talk about is killing dragons. And now Alex says kill constantly. He dropped this one on me Saturday afternoon while we were driving home from my parents’ house. I went past our road because I saw him nodding off and I thought if I kept going he might fall asleep. But he knows the way home and wanted to go there. Clearly.



“Oh, forget it, mom, just forget it.”

He says this when I ask him to do anything. He also says this when I don’t ask him to do anything. I think he just thinks it’s cool to say. Which it’s not. This one comes courtesy of his cousin.



“I’m gonna poop on your face.”

This landed him in a major time out the other night while I was making dinner. He is very big into poop humor right now and I honestly have no idea where he got it. Nick and I can be pretty immature but we’re not that bad. And I’m pretty sure Dora and Diego don’t go there….




Alex is not allowed to say “Oh my God,” so he usually says, “Oh my Goodness,” or “Oh my Goth” (he has a bit of a lisp) but recently he’s been saying “O.M.G.” I think I may have said it once in a joking way to Nick (complete with the valley girl accent) and Alex overheard. Nothing gets by this kid. If only he liked to repeat the good stuff….



So, did your kids go through a phase like this? Is three really young to be so damn fresh?—does this mean I’m doomed?! Any tips? Reasoning, time outs, yelling and counting to three doesn’t seem to be working. O.M.G., do I have the devil spawn?