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Question: My 4 year old has just started school and is obsessed with toilet humour. What can I do?

Dr Richard Woolfson's Answer:

Isn’t it amazing how children this age are fascinated by all the bodily functions which adults prefer not to discuss. Expulsions of air and body waste, rude noises, and concealed body parts will typically send a bunch of four-year-olds into peals of laughter! This is partly because they know adults are uncomfortable with such topics, partly because they love to share in-jokes with their peers, and partly because – if you think about – toilet humour is intrinsically funny to many people, whether children or adults.

If you want to discourage this, make sure that neither you – nor anyone else – respond with laughter to his toilet humour. Any giggle, smile, or snigger simply reinforces it. Likewise, a negative over-reaction, such as a serious reprimand, also has a similar effect – a strong response to his toilet humour teaches him that this is a great way to get attention from mum, dad or his siblings. In addition, explain to your toddler that you are unhappy when he makes those comments, and that you know he wouldn’t want to do anything that upsets you. Point out that others may feel the same way too. The combination of these strategies will result in a steady decline in this form of humour.