Let's duct tape the phrase 'shut-up' from being said to a child

CJ Coombs

I have never liked the phrase, shut up. I also didn’t grow up in a home where that phrase was prevalent. I believe there are more productive ways to ask someone to stop talking. I believe we are such a strong influence on children that we should always set an example.

As written in 7 Reasons Why It’s Not Okay to Tell Your Child To “Shut Up”,

Practice What You Preach. We don’t want to be told that our child was the one who said “shut up” during a classmate’s birthday party or at a play date. We don’t want our children uttering this phrase, so as parents, we shouldn’t either.

During phone conversations

If a parent is on an important phone call and needs a young child to be quiet for a couple of minutes, saying shut-up in a stern voice isn’t appropriate. It’s rude and demeaning. Saying, “ just a minute, please,” is a lot more constructive and teaches good manners.

Young children are not accessories. When they need your attention or need to feel important, they have the tendency to need you when you’re on the phone. For new parents, be advised that interruptions will happen all the time. To hear a child saying, “Mommy, mommy, mommy…” doesn’t earn shut-up, I’m on the phone.

The child is learning (1) shut-up is appropriate, and (2) it’s okay for a parent to be rude to a child. When a child becomes a teenager and tells a parent to shut up, guess where the behavior was probably learned?

In EmpoweringParents.com, Eliminate “Shut up!” From Your Family’s Vocabulary, states,

'Shut up' is a rude and offensive comment. Kids learn that fact very early through various channels, from movies, music, school, and social media. So whether it’s you or your child saying 'shut up,' just know that the comment is insulting, and I recommend that you do not tolerate insulting behavior in your home, especially if you have a child with behavior problems.

Saying ‘shut-up’ in public

One year I was in a department store and a mother was yelling at her child who appeared to be three or four. The child started crying and the mother told the child to shut up. Not a positive parenting lesson by any means.

The candy wall next to check-out aisles — whoever thought of this great marketing strategy for children. Try saying, no, I’m sorry but we aren’t buying any candy today to your child in a calm civil manner, and continue through the check-out aisle standing firm on your decision.

Also, understand that everyone has their own parenting style and a lot of situations are just none of our business. Sure, we can have an opinion, but the circumstance isn’t unruly enough to be defined as abuse, it’s basically none of our business. Like the woman I saw telling her child to shut up. It was none of my business. I didn’t like it. I had to move on.

I was taught at an early age never to use the word hate because it’s such a strong word. I applied my dad’s reasoning to the phrase shut-up and I cringe whenever I hear it. Some words or phrases that are said habitually to children can leave an emotional effect; we know it’s an influence.

If your child is having a tantrum in public, if you think about it, saying shut-up isn’t going to improve the situation, neither is yelling or threatening what’s going to happen when you get home. I have never understood why a parent tells a sobbing child to shut up.

How to effectively say ‘please shut your pie hole’

At least when someone says, shut your pie hole, there is the element of humor. There are other ways of asking someone to be quiet without using rude phrases. If you think about it, when your child starts school and learns that shut up is rude and has grown up hearing it, this child might wonder if the parent has been rude.

This is why we have to be careful with what we say and how we say it.

My mom used to say, “zip it,” and I knew what that meant. Since I was raised in a military background, I would never have talked back and said, “No, you zip it.” I think if she would have ever raised her voice to say, “shut up,” my feelings would have been hurt.

Is it okay for a teacher to ever tell a student to shut-up?

Teachers have one of the hardest jobs. They raise our children also. If anyone is put into a situation to exclaim, “Shut up!” to a young adolescent, it would be a teacher. If our child came home from school and informed a teacher told him or her to “shut up,” a lot of us might be outraged. There is a positive way and a negative way to tell anyone to stop talking.

Have I ever said, shut up?

Of course. I’ve even said it in humor to my friends. But I have always embraced the phrases, be quiet, or stop talking more than I would choose to say “shut-up” to a child or adult. I have never liked the phrase.

I also don’t believe anger is part of any solution and that we have to maintain a tolerance level when teaching children lessons.

People who need the last word or who want to put an end to a conversation will say “shut up.” Saying this phrase never really helps anyone and even though it may feel right to a parent at certain times, it really isn’t appropriate.

When you hear the phrase, it’s carried with a rude tone and when you hear a parent screaming it to a child in public, it sounds offensive. And the last thing a parent should want is to hear their child saying it to someone else.

In Parenting Simply--Loving Kids. Staying Calm, good advice is offered on how to discuss this negative phrase with your children, especially when they start saying it. "If you let kids talk without judging them, you get lots of information."

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Multi-genre writer and indie author with a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. My working career has been in law firms, and I retired early so I could be a writer all day. You could say I'm from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri because I was born into the Air Force life. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO

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