Banish the Burp -- Ask Mrs Manners

Cynthia Dermody
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obnoxious burping

Photo by llpalady

The toddler years are the perfect age to start teaching your kids manners and good habits. And MrsManners aka: Angela Pitre, owner of the CM group Manners for the Modern Family and FamilyMannersMadeFun.com, is here to help.

Dear MrsManners,

How do I teach my 4 year old daughter that it's not polite to fake burp?!

She has burping contests with her friends to see who can produce the longest, funniest, and loudest belch sound. She'll burp at the dinner table and pretend it was just an accident. She burps in her brother's face. She stops when I ask her to, but I know it continues when I'm not around.

I want my daughter to understand this is not acceptable or ladylike -- how do I do it and what's the best punishment for when she does?

MrsManners says:

To a toddler, burping is new and fascinating just like every other thing they do. In fact, they will think it is hysterical. And that's okay. It's only when they start the obnoxious fake burps that it's time for a manners lesson.

When they make that sound (usually following a real one), let them know that it is not okay to fake burp. DO NOT LAUGH. It only encourages the behavior as an older toddler.

What if you didn't manage to stop the fake burping early on? First off, tell your child that they shouldn't burp without saying "Excuse me" afterward. Acknowledge that there are times it will happen and you want to make sure they know how to handle it properly when it does. 

Secondly, explain that this is not nice behavior and it upsets you. If you subscribe to time-outs, then give them the old 1, 2, 3.  Third strike you're out. I personally think that this form of punishment should suffice for the "crime" -- while it is an irritation and  embarrassment, the repetition should suck the fun out of burping all together. You can also try taking a favorite toy away if your child doesn't respond to time-out.

Teaching them to say "Excuse me" after burping will also take a lot of the fun out of it.  Tell them that when they are at a table and they feel a burp coming, to cover their mouth with their napkin.

I have heard the stories of husbands who play the so-called burping and farting game. Turning it into something funny will only add fuel to their fire and send mixed messages if both parents aren't on board. 

If your child is old enough, explain what burping really is. In its simplest form, it is trapped air in your stomach that can even be painful. Every person burps and it really isn't that unique or funny. Adding logic and explanation is sure to rain on their parade even more.

Your child isn't always going to be with you and they will be exposed to things that you don't agree with and behaviors you dislike. The only thing you can do is to remind your child that these are not things that YOUR family does, and that even when they are away from you they are expected to behave the way you raised them. Make it clear that if they are "caught" doing this even at school, that you will put them in time out when they get home or you will take their favorite toy away. 

I'd love to hear how other moms tackled this in their homes! And leave me a question that I can answer for next week ...

Angela W. Pitre, aka MrsManners

Past Ask Mrs Manners columns:

Should Kids Be Forced to Share Toys?

Winging the Pacifier

Should Parents Say 'Thank You'?

Toddlers Eating Everything

Throwing-Obsessed Toddlers

Are You a Hypocrite?

Pushy Toddlers

Taming the Messy Eater

How to Have Well Behaved Toddlers

My Son Won't Stop Touching Other Moms' Breasts!

Is Shyness Impolite?

Stop Peer Pressure Early

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