Monday

Best advice I was ever given about toddlers

positive discipline for a happy child
Happy Child by George Hodan
Children do not understand the word don't so when I say "Don't run across the road" they may hear "Run across the road." Instead I should be saying "Walk across the road, holding hands."

When I was told this it affected both my work with children and my home life. At first I realized how many times I did say "don't" even if it was with the word "please".  (Please don't touch that) Then I had to re train myself to stop saying don't and it helped me to always try and think of the positive way of saying things.
So:
"Don't throw your toys" becomes "Let's put the toys in the box"
"Don't draw on your books" becomes "We draw on paper - here is some paper"
"Please don't slam the door" becomes "This is how you close the door quietly"
"Don't squeeze the poor cat" becomes "Touch the cat gently"

Here is how an expert in childhood education and developmental psychology explains this concept: Young children cannot conjugate the word “don’t.” When we say, “Don’t touch the lamp,” they hear, “Touch the lamp!” They look at you with a smile and touch the lamp. We think, “You wicked child, you deliberately defied me,” and enter power struggle territory. Instead of using “don’t,” pivot and tell the child what to do. “Don’t touch the lamp,” becomes, “Hold my hand (offer your hand) so you can learn how to touch delicate things softly.” “Don’t run,” becomes, “Walk slowly like this.” Dr. Becky A. Bailey.

FREE Work Sheet from University of Wisconsin: Focus on DO Instead of DON’T

This post is linked to The Sunday Parenting Party

4 comments:

The Monko said...

This is so true. I started using describe what you want to see phrases with my son and the shift in his behaviour was so quick and measurable it was amazing. Another thing that i was told which helped enhance this is that toddlers and young children respond better to 'ing' words. So rather than saying "Don't run" you can simply say "walking" and they hear instantly what they need to do. This one is extremely effective at the swimming pool when running is dangerous.
I'm pinning this to the Sunday Parenting Party pin board, thanks for sharing

Melanie said...

This is great advice. I'm going to try it with my son but I bet it takes a bit of practice to stop saying "don't"!

the Monko said...

I've featured this on the Sunday Parenting Party this week. You can grab an I was featured button from my button page if you'd like one

Alice S. said...

This parenting advice has been so helpful to me with my 2 year old who does not really understand everything I say. it is such a simple idea but takes a change in the way we express ourselves to young children and it is far reaching.

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