The word “no” doesn’t give a child any information on what you want them to do. No is not an action word and action words are the ones that change behavior. We have to use better language to help our children take action to stop doing something wrong and start doing something right. Let’s all start saying “stop” as a way to change behavior.
I have written about using affirmative words in parenting before. Remember, “don’t think of a pink elephant” immediately causes you to think of a pink elephant? When you say “don’t touch the plant” all your child’s brain can hear is “touch the plant.” Here are two simple things you can do that will get us off the “no” track as a society:
- Say “stop” instead of “no”. This is the perfect place to start. We use it in our first step of our strategy in leading our toddler. It will take a while, but once this becomes second nature you will see better results than no.
- Rephrase your command into a positive action statement. Don’t touch the plant becomes “keep your hands off the plant.”
Caveat: No does has its place. For example, when a child wants a cookie right before bed. Or in a situation where they have not given consent for a hug, kiss, or other physical interaction.