July 4, 2013

No, Don't, and other bad words...

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How often do you say 'No!' around your kids? Chances are, you do it more often than you realize. As parents, we do it instinctively - we don't want the young ones to harm themselves,after all. But it is also easy to get carried away with this instinct. The controlling urge that we have as carers and protectors makes us think that we ought to tell our children exactly what and what not to do. Children, on the other hand, are different creatures. Young children, especially, are easily excited by everything. Which means that they'll make messes (lots of them!), they'll do naughty things and they'll get into trouble. Of course, you can't let them get away with everything. But if you stop to think for a moment, your cautionary directives could thwart creativity and exploration (as much as your non-verbal cues do).

Pic: staycep/Pixabay/Public Domain
Now, it's not like you're damaging your child by letting them have a free run but my point is that there are certain words and phrases we should use carefully. Here are some, for instance:

No!
We often blurt this out without really knowing what the kids are doing. We assume that they're going to do something unsafe, but they're probably as cautious as we are. Sometimes, you just have to wait and watch, and let them explore the world around them. If they are indeed doing something dangerous, scream it at the top of your lungs by all means! But in other cases, try to say something positive (Just be careful/That's a big step/Mind your head) or divert them to something else. You can also try asking them what they're doing when you catch them doing something absurd, such as licking the wall. That might surprise them into having to explain it to themselves!

Don't!
This is like saying no, but is more like a command. Chances are, you'll be ignored if you try to tell kids what not to do. It's very simple to, instead, tell them what you would like them to do. But make sure you don't ask them to do it, because given a choice, they'll choose not to.

You can't do that!
This really brings the child's abilities into question, and may make them want to pursue their activity no matter what. Instead, offer to help them or use the good old distraction method (you have to be creative with that!).

Bad boy/girl!
This is a phrase that can do more harm than good. A young child will react negatively to something like this, so avoid it altogether. Remember, it is the action that you have to call bad and not the child. Point out what the child did was wrong (such as hitting), and tell them what they should do instead - such as let an adult know if they were hit by another child.

Look up 'positive parenting' and you will find lots of resources on communicating positively with children (there are some on my blog roll on the right). Doing this doesn't mean that you secede your power as a parent, but that you work with the child for a positive outcome. Importantly, don't feel guilty about having to impose limitations and saying 'No'. You know what is best for your child, and there's nothing that a good hug and kiss cannot solve!

14 comments :

  1. I try to be careful, but a big wake-up call for me was when I noticed our daughter saying things to her stuffed animals that we'd said to her. I became a lot more aware of my words after that.

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    1. They soak up every little thing and that's also the problem. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. I catch myself doing this at times. I recently made it a point to never say stuff like, "are you being a good girl?" because it implies they are being "bad" and I dont want my little one to think that so I have been saying stuff like "please be a good listener for mommy" which is something she actually wants to be. She often says to me, "am I being a good listener?" and she is happy when I tell her she is.

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    1. That's a very good point, Linda. Positive words make all the difference.

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  3. It's so hard as a parent to get the right balance of good discipline but without knocking their individual characters out of them. It also doesn't help that every child is different, I say NO a lot more to my daughter than I do my son #PoCoLo

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    1. I agree, it depends a lot of the child. Everything is subjective when it comes to them!

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  4. Interesting post. And I'm also quite pleased that I don't really use these phrases! 'No' is the only one I ever say. I am obviously more positive than I give myself credit for! Popping over from PoCoLo.

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    1. Good to hear that! Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. Interesting post - I am guilty of saying 'no' far too much, and probably 'don't' a bit too often. I completely agree that positive phrasing is so much better, and in my experience more likely to get the desired result! Popping over from PoCoLo.

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  6. We make a point of never telling our daughter she is "bad". We will say what you are doing is naughty, etc. but we never generalize and put a label on HER, just the behavior :)

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  7. I'm so with you on this. I have always 'explained' things to Grace rather than told her no or just told her off for the sake of it! Great post. Thank you so much for linking to PoCoLo - sorry for the delay in commenting xx

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  8. Happy to read all your thoughts on the subject. Thanks for sharing them!

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  9. Some great advice here, I'm featuring you on the Sunday Parenting Party this weekend

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