One of the Gay Uncle’s colleagues over at MOMLOGIC recently posted a piece about why she washed her son’s mouth out with soap. Apparently, the boy wouldn’t stop saying things like “poop”, “poo-poo”, and “poopie”, and the mom wouldn’t stop letting this behavior annoy her–a perfect swirlie of immature brinksmanship. So once the kid inevitably crossed the line a final time, mother squirted some pineapple hand soap into his mouth and had him swish it around. The outcome? The boy pumped his fist and said, “Yes! I ate soap!”
Gunc would like to give this mom a piece of advice: Dial it Down. Why?
1) Stooping to your child’s level to engage in absurd and inane battles–and then allowing their behavior to incite you to perform irrational and potentially injurious acts–inevitably leads to nothing but further conflict.
2) Like using torture to acquire sensitive information, or employing the death penalty as a means of deterring future murders, extreme practices like soap-gargling may seem like they’re making an impact, but they are actually completely ineffectual. Studies prove it. (If you’re a doubter, just note the boy’s reaction.)
3) Getting so out of control that you are reduced to behaving this way demeans you as a human and undermines your authority as a parent. Your job is to model control, and to employ effective discipline that will help your child find their own center. Remember the G.U.’s mantra: “PRETEND YOU’RE THE GROWNUP!”
4) Soaping out a “dirty” mouth is both retro and metaphorical, neither of which means anything to a young kid.
So what to do instead? Well, for starters, Gunc would suggest that you not worry so much about your kid saying words like “poop”. (Ever heard the expression, “Choose your battles”?) Still, if you think it’s not appropriate, say so. But keep your invocations calm and straightforward, and then let it lie. If you lose your mind every time your child a word you don’t approve of, they’re going to quickly learn that this is an excellent way to get a rise out of you, and this will only encourage them to do it more. If you’ve already dug yourself into this hole, or find they’re cursing to accomplish this end, your best bet is to calmly tell them once that it’s inappropriate, and then ignore it. It may take a while, but I fucking swear it will go away.