Nearly 5-year-old twins are calling everyone "stupid"

We are parents of twin boys, getting close to 5 years old. A few months ago they seem to have suddenly learned the word “stupid”, it quickly became the word of choice as soon as they were frustrated, mad or just wanted to assert themselves (which is often in daily twin competition). “Brother is stupid.” “Mommy/daddy is stupid.” We keep talking about how words hurt and how that makes someone feel. We give time out or take away “fun” things if they won’t stop saying it. To be honest, I don’t know if it is really working. We have been more successful with curbing “potty/poop talk” at the dinner table, but they are just being silly in those moments - not mad/frustrated as they are when they are saying someone is “stupid”. Has anyone dealt with and somehow conquered this phase of behavior or have parenting resources you would suggest?

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So there are probably many ways of handling this and you'll have to find one that feels right to you. I will confess that recently I've gotten into Janet Landsbury's Unruffled podcast on respectful parenting. One of the things she suggests (if I'm representing her correctly) is actually not making a big thing of behaviors like this but going a little deeper to recognize the emotion. So if it were my kid, I might not even address the fact that my child called me stupid but instead say, "Yeah, I hear you are feeling mad at me right now for making you leave your toys to eat dinner. That is frustrating. You were having a lot of fun playing and you didn't want to stop."  You don't need to "fix" the feeling, just to recognize it and give it space to be. Landsbury's point is that once you make a big deal of something by talking it through extensively and giving consequences, you run the risk of actually making it more of a "thing." If you still feel compelled, you could probably add a simple, "We don't call each other names in our family" and leave it at that. If a harmful behavior comes up, like hitting, you might again keep calm, intervene physically to hold your child's hand back gently (hopefully before they make physical contact) and just say something like, "I hear you are really upset about your brother grabbing your toy, but I can't let you hit. I'm going to help you keep your hands to yourself."

Anyway, my description isn't much of a substitute for listening to Landsbury herself, but if you are all interested, I do recommend the podcast - it's really great to hear her own words and phrases in her own voice. She also has a couple of books and a blog.

I hope you get some advice that helps one way or another. Good luck!