Don’t be late. Don’t run in the house! Don’t tease your sister. DON’T RUN IN THE HOUSE!
If you were to keep track, how many times a day you find yourself uttering the dreaded four-letter word of childhood: DON’T?
A simple change in the language, can make a BIG difference in communication with your child.
Let’s start by understanding 3 reasons why “don’t” often doesn’t work:
- “No” and “don’t” get discouraging, fast. Imagine having someone in your life – a boss or a spouse, for example – who began the majority of their communication with you using those words.
It wouldn’t take long to feel downright crummy about yourself, and our kids are no exception. It goes without saying that we want our kids to have a positive self-image, and we need to make sure our language reflects that.
- Negative commands are confusing. Negative commands, such as “don’t” and “no” require a double mental process: our kids first must understand what not to do, and then figure out what they’re supposed to do instead. We unknowingly make things more confusing and reduce the likelihood of actually getting their cooperation.
- It reinforces the negative behavior. If I were to say to you “don’t touch your face,” one of the first things you’ll think to do is, ironically, to touch your face.
Our children are again hardwired the same way. Our well intentioned “don’t bother your brother while he’s studying” instead inspires our kids to keep their sibling from completing his homework.
It will take some work, but make it your mission to limit the “DON’T” in your household. You’ll be surprised at how much the shift will change the dynamics in your home!