Sometimes life seems, well, a little bit busy. And either I forgot the parenting manual they handed out at the hospital or they didn’t give me one. While I would love to say I have this all under control, I won’t lie—when I need help, I turn to experts and deliberate practice. No problem–I have TDS Internet so research is always at my fingertips.
As such I found an author who I really relate to: Amy McReady. I’m sharing this because her book, If I Have to Tell You One More Time: The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids To Listen Without Nagging, Reminding, or Yelling (read sample chapter here), has been a game changer for me.
This week I took one of her tips–stop saying no and ditch the “don’t.”. Amy says:
If you were to keep track, how many times a day would you find yourself uttering the dreaded four-letter word of childhood: don’t?
Don’t be late. Don’t eat popsicles in the living room! Don’t bother your sister. DON’T EAT POPSICLES IN THE LIVING ROOM!
While our motives are good, saying no, don’t, and other such negative commands cause more problems than they solve. In fact, they play a big role in how our kids perceive themselves and in the amount of cooperation they give us. Switching up the words we use, however, can make our action match our intention.
Let’s start by understanding why “don’t” often doesn’t work: Negative commands are confusing. I facilitate an in-class exercise with parents where I give moms and dads a series of “don’t” commands: “Don’t sit down, don’t look at me, don’t stand still, don’t look at your neighbor,” and so forth. The look on their faces is priceless. They take on a “deer in the headlights” expression as they try to process what they should and should not do.
Our children face the same problem. 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. For example, “don’t be late” might mean to us, “shut off those video games and go get dressed for your band concert,” but to a child it doesn’t really mean anything.
My focus has been incorporating more “DO” in my household such as “I’ll give you this popsicle but you have to eat it in the kitchen” and, “You can talk to your sister once she’s done with her quiet time.” It has worked wonders (and I imagine the theory could work the same in a corporate setting as well.)
What tricks can you share on positive parenting?