The Power of Positive Words
When you speak in a firm voice and avoid threats, kids tend to cooperate better.
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Another thing to remember is that it’s always better to use as few words as possible. Kids are simple. They don’t need long explanations as to why they shouldn’t pinch each other. They know it hurts. If you want to explain it to them, do so when you have their full attention and they’re interested in listening. At the moment when you want them to stop, tell them to stop by instructing them to do something else. Be brief and very specific. When I told my daughter to “walk away” she knew exactly what I wanted her to do. If I told her to “stop arguing with the boy” she might look at me and wonder what she should be doing instead. Also, by asking her to walk away, I didn’t engage a stranger’s child nor did I assume either was to blame for the conflict. If your child is pulling his brother’s hair and you tell him to stop, he might stop for a moment, then just do it again. Saying something like “put your hands in your pockets” may solve the problem. If you don’t have any idea of what you want to say, but you need to stop the behavior, have your kids put their hands in their pockets, at their sides, or even on their heads. They might think you’re crazy, but it can stop the behavior and give you a moment to think of the next instruction.
Finally, I do believe the word “stop” can be used in a positive manner. When your child is doing something that you want them to stop doing immediately, the first thing you can say is “STOP!” Say it firmly and loudly if necessary. Get your child’s attention quickly this way and then, give him a brief instruction. If you are walking at the park and your child is walking too far ahead ask him to “stop,” and then follow with “stay next to me” or “hold my hand.” Remember, simple, brief, and positive commands will usually yield the most positive results.
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