A Guest Post By Irina Nichifiriuc
My son is 7 years old. To him, it’s funny to make toilet jokes and show his intimate body parts to everyone. Not long ago, every evening, while putting on his pajamas, he would wave his penis around in front of me and his sisters. At first I told him that this was not appropriate behavior and that he should put it away, but of course, my comment only made him want to do it more!
I changed tactics. Next, when he started waving it around I would say “Eww!!” with a playful tone. But then I thought that my reaction might create repulsion for him about his own body – something I really didn’t want.
What to do? What to do? I wondered.
I remembered Larry Cohen’s game about name calling. Whenever a kid called him names, he would say: “Oh, it’s OK as long as you don’t call me Ricecake. That's my secret name, you know? Then I’ll really get mad.”
I decided to adapt the game to our situation. Every time he showed me his penis, I would look for a second and then say “Oh, good. I thought you were going to show me your tongue. That I really don’t want to see.”
What do you think happened? Yes! He started showing me his tongue and bursting into laughter. I would look disgusted and say “Eww!” and run around the house to escape him showing me his tongue. At some point, I would stop and say “You know what? Maybe your tongue is not that disgusting, but you should never show me the hair on the top of your head.”
What happened? No surprise! He laughed and showed me the top of his head. “Eww! No more! Please! I can’t take it !” I would say, as contagious laughter spread all over the house.
My girls liked the game too, so it became a go-to for giggles. At bedtime, all the kids would get naked and show me their tongues and the tops of their heads, wanting me to act disgusted. Laughter always followed. This game was their favorite for weeks.
Matei still shows off his penis sometimes, but not every night now. And anyways, if he does, I’m OK with it, because it gives me a chance to play the “Eww game.”
Why Does Laughing Along Help?
Games let laughter flow – a great way for kids to release pent up tensions and fear that may cause off-track behaviour. You can take grumps to giggles in seconds with a game. Here's some ideas for turning around a bathtime tantrum, games to make older kids feel special, and games to play that encourage sharing. For more playful, practical parenting get our monthly newsletter. Sign up here!
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Irina Nichifiriuc is from Romania and is in the Hand In Hand Instructor Certification Program.
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