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Inappropriate Language
in a 2 Year Old

My 2.5 year-old son has recently latched onto inappropriate language and continues to utter the phrase "shut up".  Do I ignore or correct this behavior? I have tried both and neither one is getting a positive result. 
If I give it attention, he does it more, if I ignore it, I feel like I'm not addressing the situation. 
Please note, he learned this phrase from Toy Story and Ratatouille - not me.  I am limiting his viewing time of these movies now.

The phrase “Shut up” is inappropriate, especially for a two year old. When he uses this phrase address it directly. Keep your correction plain as not to give extra attention for bad behavior. Next time he says “shut up” try using the phrase “We don’t say that in our family”. He should then show remorse/obedience and apologize. “Time out” should be used if he does not say “I’m sorry” or uses the phrase a second time (in a short time period).

If he is using the phrase “Shut up Mom!” or Shut up Dad!” this is even worse behavior and he must be sent to “time out”. If he is allowed to successfully challenge your authority at 2 years old, his behavior will spiral out of control until it it addressed. If left uncorrected, eventually it will not be correctable.

I agree that you need to eliminate T.V. shows that use the phrase “shut up”. When he asks to view these programs explain that he cannot watch these programs as he is using inappropriate language learned through these shows.

With persistent, direct correction this will get better. In general, the longer he has used the phrase the longer it will take to correct.

see Time out


Written Februrary 2011 by
Dr. Gordon, Orlando Pediatrician






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