The Problem: My son recently hung out with older boys who love to belch and taught him the ways of the masters. Now he is doing it everywhere we go. He thinks it’s hilarious and I am so embarrassed. I know boys will always love burps and gas, but how do I help him understand that some places just aren’t appropriate for that behavior—like at all the holiday gatherings we’ll be attending.
The Expert: Linda Hill, director, The Colorado School of Protocol and Etiquette
The Solution: Learning a new skill is always fun, regardless of one’s age. But it’s especially fun when learned by a child testing their boundaries. Part of the appeal to a child is the shocked expression on an adult’s face. Eliciting a big laugh is also a draw. Consider the following steps to curtail the inappropriate behavior and take some of the thrill out of it:
- Explain to your child that while it can be funny to see how shocked Grandma is when he belches, it is inappropriate and disrespectful, especially when at the dining table.
- Encourage children to say “Please excuse me” immediately after passing gas, whether it was done by accident or on purpose.
- Have a gentle reminder chat with your child before leaving home for an event to reiterate what the expectation is for their behavior. That way, you’re setting up your child to succeed in meeting expectations.
- Offer a small reward or privilege for each event your child gets through without belching.
- That said, acknowledging how amusing belching can be for your child, consider telling them to save belching time for when they are alone with their peers and can enjoy a good giggle—while still saying “Please excuse me” afterward.
As with all negative behaviors, remember to praise the behavior you want and try your very best to ignore the behavior you do not want repeated.