Four Words To Use Wisely Around Children

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 our children 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 stand in the way of creativity and exploration (as much as your non-verbal cues do).

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 as parents should use wisely.


We often blurt this out without really knowing what the kids are going to do. We assume that they're what they are doing is 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. Saying it aloud might surprise them into realizing their mistake!


This word is like saying No, but in a more commanding manner. Chances are, you'll be ignored if you try to tell kids what not to do. It's easier, 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 your child's abilities into question, in their own head. Then, they'll want to pursue their ambition no matter what. Instead, offer to help them or use the good old distraction method.

Bad boy/girl!

This is a phrase that can do more harm than good. A young child will react negatively to this phrase, whether directed at them or someone else. 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.

Being a positive parent, doesn't mean giving up your authority 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. Walk your children through why something isn't right for them to do, and how it isn't the end of the world.

Check out my post on Six Shifts Towards Positive Parenting for more tips for imbibing positivity in your parenting. 

Love this quote I found on Pinterest, from Barrel of Oranges

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