I was wondering if anyone might have any input for me.
My three-year-old son has recently picked up some naughty phrases... "shut up," which I believe he picked up from his beloved and oft-watched "Toy Story;" and (I hate to say this), "fuck" and "fucking," which he picked up from his father. Nice, I know. My hubby has a habit of using the f-word a lot, mostly as a descriptor (e.g., "It's fucking hot today," "That was a fucking good burger," etc.). I used to use the f-word as a descriptor a lot too, but learned to curb it once our son got old enough to notice. Chris, however, has not. He simply forgets to edit himself and keeps using the word freely, and I always have to remind him... unfortunately, it's always AFTER Kieran has gotten an earful of "where the fuck did I leave my glasses?"
Anyway, Kieran has picked up on these words. The f-word actually doesn't bother me too much, as he mostly says it under his breath, like he's testing it out and doesn't really use it out loud--yet. "Shut up," though, is an entirely different matter. He now says it whenever he's mad about something, like if I tell him he can't have a cookie, or tell him it's time to pick up his toys when he doesn't want to, or whatever. He tells his baby sister to shut up sometimes too.
This language use is unacceptable to me. A toddler telling someone to shut up is rude and inappropriate, and more so when he's telling it to his parents. At first, we started by reprimanding him and explaining that the language was not nice, but as he continued to use it, we started becoming harsher and making him sit by himself (like Time Out) and/or go to his room alone so he could think about it, and told him he couldn't come back out until he was ready to speak nicely.
Still, he continues to use the language. Sometimes he says it out loud and other times he whispers it, but loud enough that we can hear it. So I'm trying to figure out what to do. I'm well aware that lots of kids deliberately do and say things to push your buttons BECAUSE they want you to get angry; it's a form of manipulation on their part because they know they can get a rise out of you. So knowing that the best thing is to remain calm, would it be better for me to ignore his bad language altogether? Just pretend I didn't hear it, and eventually it would lose its meaning? And what about when he says it to his sister?
I suspect that at age three, ignorance in lieu of punishment would be the best route. Ignoring the words would cause them to lose their power, right? But what about when he says "shut up" directly to me, and not under his breath? Do I just play stupid, or do I acknowledge it? Does he get punished, or do I just tell him to talk nicely? I hate to make these words more intriguing to him by emphasizing their inappropriateness, KWIM? Any advice from those who have gone through the toddler period?
What I really want to tell him is that if he doesn't shut up, I'm going to wring his fucking neck. :D