[In this post: how to speak so your child will listen! Learn the exact positive phrases to use as you teach your children, gain their cooperation and help them improve their language and communication skills!]
You see your child hitting another child, your first words are probably “stop hitting!”
Think about what these two words “stop hitting” mean to a young child.
For toddlers who have limited language abilities, they only hear “hitting”.
For preschoolers who feel angry that their toys have been snatched, they know you ask them to stop, but they don’t know what else to do to express their anger!
When you say “stop hitting”, do these words help a child learn what’s the right thing to do instead?
TURN NEGATIVE INTO POSITIVE LANGUAGES
Instead of “stop hitting”, you can say “be gentle”.
Instead of “you cannot play at the playground”, you can say “yes you can play at the playground, we can come back tomorrow. The sky is getting dark.”
Instead of “you cannot watch youtube”, you can say “yes you can watch youtube after you finish your homework.”
Instead of “you cannot eat ice cream”, you can say “yes you can eat ice cream when you are not coughing.”
I have shared more examples of positive languages in a summary sheet. Read to the end to download it!
3 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD USE POSITIVE LANGUAGES.
If you want to get the kids to comply willingly, it is highly recommended that you use positive language instead.
1. Positive languages guide a child and teach him what to do. “Use your gentle voice (vs stop shouting!), “sit on your high chair” (vs don’t run around at dinner!”) Negative languages don’t communicate to a child what he should do. The child is left thinking of what to do instead.
2. Negative words like “No! Stop! Don’t! You can’t!” activates the fight and flight mode of the brain. On the other hand, positive words are not threats to our survival brain; in fact, they activate the motivational centers of the brain. Research has also shown that the use of positive language boosts self-esteem, improve overall well-being and functioning of the brain.
(Book recommendation: The Yes Brain by Dr. Dan Siegel .Teach your child to be curious and resilience by developing a YES brain!)
3. Positive languages connect you and your child. Your child trusts you, feels safe knowing what to do, and feel that you are on his side.
Negativity breeds negativity and positivity builds positivity. I like how karacarrero shared that the use of negative phrases in parenting have an unintentional consequence of wiring the way our children speak and view the world.
WHEN TO SAY NO
I am not suggesting you cannot say no.
You have to scream or shout “NOOOO!!” in dangerous situations or emergencies!
“Stop running to the road! Do not touch the knife!”
Think about it, when you use “stop, and no” sparingly, your child will take you seriously when you do use them!
TELL YOUR KIDS WHAT THEY CAN DO, INSTEAD OF WHAT THEY CANNOT DO
Using positive phrases doesn’t mean your child can get away with anything he wants. We want to guide our children with compassionate, yet provide boundaries for them to thrive in. Start connecting with your children, empathize with them, they will know when you truly care for them.
Other reads: other than words, the tone you use matter as well. Read more about the importance of role modelling from this article by Kate from picklebums.com