The past couple of weeks we have had a “Shut Up” problem in our home. That means the kids have been using that phrase a lot. My kids love to quote their principal, “Shut is a nice word and Up is a nice word but if you put them together it is not a nice word. We do not like to use it in this school.” However, this does not seem to deter them permanently from using this not nice word.
So what is a Mom supposed to do? When we see there is a recurring problem in our home, my husband and I get the kids together for a meeting so that we can come up with a solution.
We let the kids know what the problem is:
“Guys, we don’t like that everyone is using the word “Shut Up!”
We then let each kid take a turn and tell us what they think. I find this part to be extremely enlightening and kind of fun. If you really listen to kids they will give you insights into why they behave the way they do. In this case, I was waiting to hear why they felt they needed to use the phrase “Shut up.”
I was not disappointed. I will paraphrase what they told me:
“If I don’t use that word, no one in the family listens to me. They just keep on teasing me or bothering me.”
“I get so mad that I just say “Shut up” and that makes me feel better.”
“I don’t see what is so bad about that word. It is just a good word to use. Only adults think it is a bad word. Kids don’t.”
If you let kids talk without judging them, you get lots of information.
Then I tried to repeat what the kids have told me:
“So basically you are telling me that the phrase, ‘Shut up’ works. It stops people from teasing you, and gets them to leave you alone. Also, you don’t think it sounds bad. To you it is not a rude word.”
Then you move them towards a solution:
“The problem is that Daddy and I think it is rude. We would like to find another word that will help you get people to leave you alone and stop them from teasing you.”
After much deliberation (where again my husband and I listened without judgment) we all decided to use the following in lieu of “Shut Up”:
1. Be Quiet
2. Leave Me Alone
3. Open Down (the opposite of Shut Up)
Kids love to come up with solutions and are willing to work with you when you approach them respectfully.
Since our problem solving session, there definitely has been a reduction in the use of “Shut Up” in the house. Yesterday, there was a slip up. I heard my son say to his sibling, “ Ssh, Mommy and Daddy don’t like it.” And then they both jokingly chanted together, “Shut is a nice word and Up is a nice word but if you put them together it is not a nice word. We do not like to use it in this house.”