The Burp Challenge

The burping in our house has been getting out of control.

Our six-year-old son says it’s always by accident. But he says it with a grin. And the burps always have that crisp, upward sound, ending with a ‘t.’ You only get it when you push a burp out and try to make it louder.

A couple years ago, my brother-in-law and his wife gave me John Eldridge’s book “Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul.” The essence of the book is that Christian men have been emasculated by the responsibilities of modern fatherhood and should instead be more adventurous and bold. The application to parenting was to let boys be boys and stop cutting them off at the knees and demanding perfect manners from a creature that is incapable of providing them. But our son is 6, so there’s no way he can understand that while it might be okay to burp around Dad, it’s not okay around Mom and absolutely forbidden around the grandparents.

Always do we make him say “excuse me” after he burps, but he does it with the same relish he would show after grabbing the last cupcake and making his little sister cry. For weeks, my Lovely Bride and I told him to press his lips together to try to make it come out silently – that way he wouldn’t have to say “excuse me.” No go.

Then on the day after Halloween, when the boy collected his body weight in candy, we found something that worked. Each time he burped, on purpose or not, we would take a piece of candy out of his orange plastic pumpkin. And eat it in front of him. Yesterday, he lost seven pieces of candy. Today, only two. Victory?

Now if only we could do something about the farting.


One response to “The Burp Challenge

  1. As the mother of two (twin) recently turned 7 boys, I completely sympathize. No burping yet, but they went through a spitting phase when they were 3 or 4 (thanks to one of their friends who taught them), and it has taken us years (not there yet) to get on top of one of the boys’ wiping technique that leaves the bathroom a complete catastrophe. I dream of them becoming Southern gentlemen (not some effete stereotype) but a human being that would actually open the door or pull a chair out for a woman–but right now, we’re still at please use silverware (not your hands) at the dinner table, and so on. Like you, the only success I’ve had has been with a threat and reward system (and that only sporadically) depending on how motivated they are by either. I haven’t read any of these “emasculating men” books, but did do my share of “reviving Ophelia” and “Queen Bees an Wannabe’s” for insights into raising girls (probably because I went through that experience–my daughter is only 10). However, I don’t think teaching manners and self-control is emasculating. Ideally, they can play a sport (my boys do soccer) or have time to run around in the yard where they can express their inner savage and get it out of their system. The people who are really good at working with young children (which is not me) say they have success with “re-focusig” or “re-channelling” the behavior–like perhaps looking for an alternative that is equally fun for them but not as offensive to you and your spouse…

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