Parents and teachers mean well but sometimes the children who misbehave get the best out of everyone. When a child doesn’t listen or act out, it’s because they are unable to express their feelings so it’s up to the adults to guide them.
Here are the 8 phrases that should be rephrased positively:
1. Don’t cry
The phrase or command “Don’t cry” hurts both boys and girls. Telling them to stop or not to cry invalidates their feelings and will lead them to hide their feelings from parents. Bottling up emotions are proven not to be healthy either in the long run.
Instead, let them cry it out and help them process the feelings by talking to them. Saying “You are so sad/ afraid/ upset/ angry right now” help validate their inner experience and recognize what they are feeling. By recognizing the feelings, they can learn to manage their emotions healthily.
Research has shown children are actually less likely to stop doing what they are doing when we tell them to “Stop” doing something. Instead of saying “Stop running,”positively reframe it by saying “Remember to use your walking feet.” A positive phrase will result in a positive outcome, instead of a command.
3. Say sorry
Saying sorry without understanding why they should do not benefit anyone. The phrase Sorry will then become a polite thing to do. A more productive method is to teach children to help the person they offended. If the child knocks over another child’s tower blocks, get the child to help fix the fallen tower. By getting them to face the consequences rather than a forced “Sorry,” it prevents them from repeating the behaviour and help them be more empathetic.
No one likes being told “I told you so” and the same goes for kids. Saying “I told you so” or the typical “See? Very good!” shames the child instead of giving them the opportunity to reflect and problem solve. Once the child is calm, have a discussion with the child about what happened and how he or she will make a better choice in the future.
5. We don’t hit etc
Adults want children to get along together but phrases or rules such as we don’t hit, throw or bite will alienate repeat offenders. These kids will feel like an outsider. A better way to rephrase this is to say “It is not ok to hit” and make them realize how it makes the other child or you feel. Follow up by having the child take action to “repair the damage.”
6. How many times do I have to tell you?
If the child did not respond to you the first time, it’s either because they didn’t hear or understand your request, or they are ignoring it on purpose. Telling them “How many times do I have to tell you?” signals to them you are alright with telling them the same thing more than once. Get them to focus on you by lowering yourself to their eye-level before speaking to them.
7. Wait until your father/ mother gets home
This phrase builds up fear against the other parent and the child also loses respect for your authority. It also tells them you’re not able to take action at the moment which may prolong their misbehaviour until the other parent gets back! If the child fears the other parent, they are less likely to approach that parent when they are in trouble or need help.
Consequences for young children should take place at the moment or they’ll forget what they did wrong and wonder why you’re suddenly telling them off a few days after!
Feature image from Clear Life