We often have a tendency to tell our children what we don’t want them to do rather than what we want them to do. Think about it – “no”, “don’t” and “stop” have got to be the most overused words around when it comes to dealing with a toddler. If that was all you ever heard, wouldn’t you eventually stop listening, too? These words often prompt a child that something they don’t want to hear is coming and they automatically tune out even before you’ve managed to say your piece. Pantly calls them “fighting words” and the very sound of them can often trigger off a tantrum even before one is due or warranted.
So instead of telling your toddler what you don’t want and triggering a fight, try telling him what you do want and focus on the positive. For instance, instead of saying, “Don’t hit the baby”, try, “Touch the baby gently”. It is a lot more pleasant for a child to hear what he can do rather than have to listen to all the things he cannot do. Think about how you would react in your child’s situation. Even as adults, we’re just the same. We respond better to positive words than to people who tell us what we should not be doing. If we can be affected so easily in this manner, you can only imagine the impact such behaviour would have on a child who is less capable of controlling his emotions.
The Discipline Armoury: Tip 12 – When/Then, Now/Later, You May/After You