“Stop shouting! Don’t stand in the middle of the aisle. Don’t touch all the boxes!” Have you ever heard yourself saying these exact words while at the grocery store? Some days it may feel like you are a drill sergeant and your child is an uncooperative private. Some days at school, I feel that same way! Young children need redirection often. But, the words we use for those redirections are important. Instead of telling children what not to do, we can focus on telling them what they can do instead! Attached to this newsletter is an article that has concrete examples of using positive words with children.
Use Positive Words
Tell the child what to do instead of what not to do. Clearly and simply state what you expect the child to do. Have age appropriate expectations. Use age appropriate language. Young children have difficulty with contractions (two words that are combined to form one such as don’t and can’t)
Instead say: Walk. Use walking feet. Stay with me. Hold my hand .
Keep your feet on the floor
Keep your hands down. Look with your eyes.
Use a calm voice. Use an inside voice.
Use a calm voice
Don’t stand on the couch!
Sit on the couch
Hands down. Use your words. (Give child appropriate words to use)
Stop pulling the dogs tail!
Pet gently. Gentle hands.
No coloring on the wall!
Color on the paper.
Don’t throw your truck!
Roll your truck on the floor
Stop playing with your food!
Food goes on the spoon and then in your mouth. Say all done.
Stop splashing the water!
Keep the water in the tub
Don’t get out of bed!
Stay in bed
We only bite food. Use your words (Give child appropriate words to use)
Spit goes in toilet/grass. Use your words (Give child appropriate words to use)
Adapted from: Hornbeck, M. (2002). Early Intervention Positive Behavior Support Parent Training Series. USF. Lentini, R., Vaughn, B.J., & Fox, L. (2005). Teaching Tools for Young Children with Challenging Behavior. University of Sout
By giving children options of what to do instead of simply telling them what not to do, we empower them to make smart choices and learn acceptable behaviors. Take time this week to consider the words you use with your child. Be intentional about the words you use and help them know what to do instead of what not to do!