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Bonnie, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 2189
Experience:  and pediatric nurse practitioner with 30 years of experience counseling parents.
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how can I get my 3 yr old boy to stop saying "shut up"? I

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how can I get my 3 yr old boy to stop saying "shut up"? I have tried everything I can think of and he responds to neither positive or negative reinforcement. Now he's in preschool and even the threat that he can't go doesn't seem to work. Help!!
Hello and thank you for using JA website,
The first thing is to make sure that no one in modeling this behavior (i.e., no one is saying shut up to him).

Then, ask yourself "what is the meaning of this behavior?". I will guess that he is angry when he says this but does not have the appropriate words other than "shut up". He has no control over his angry feelings so we can't say "don't be angry" but we can teach him other words which are okay to say when he feels like saying "shut up". I would suggest "I am angry" or "please be quiet". So next time he says Shut up....don't react with anger yourself but rather get eye contact and say "I see you are angry" please say _____ instead of shut up. Then, practice with him when he is calm and not angry. "Say: you know that time when you felt like saying shut up, you should say "please be quiet" instead.

Remember, make sure that all those around him are telling him to "please be quiet" if he is too loud so that you are modeling the behavior you want to see in him. So in this case "to discipline is to teach appropriate behavior".

Good luck.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

we have tried that already. part of the problem is that he will say it at any time, even when he's not angry. and when told that he shouldn't say it, or he can say "good words" instead, he just replies that he "wants to say bad words".

I know he has picked this up in movies, but he just refuses to not say it no matter how we tell him not to.

This may be an impulse control problem. Does he have any signs of attention problems and hyperactivity?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

yes, he is very active. his older brother has add. do you think that is what we are heading into?

This certainly could be an early sign symptoms of ADHD -the impulsive component. (can't stop self). It is too son to diagnose, if course, but could be a precursor. Remembering brother's behaviors at this age might help in making predictions.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

are there any suggestions that could help me help him to control/stop the naughtly words?

You have already tried all the strategies that I know. If this is an impulse control problems (whether or not a part of ADHD), typical behavior management straties do not work....and that is what you've found. Therefore, the only suggestion would be to consult the pediatrician about possible medical treatment that is appropriate at his age such as Guaficine (Tenex).

Customer: replied 4 years ago.


your welcome.
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