The first step to managing your child’s behaviour is clear communication.

Are you tired of having to repeat yourself over and over again when asking your children to do something? Do you feel like they never listen to you?

The first step to managing your child’s behaviour is clear communication. Often the problems we have with children has more to do with what we haven’t said rather than what they haven’t done.

Follow these steps to clear communication and you will soon see a big difference

Don’t say Don’t

Saying “don’t” has the opposite effect of what you want. Instead of changing the behaviour, you reinforce it because you only focus on the problem behaviour. When you say “Don’t Run” you’re not saying what you want them to do instead. All your child can think about is running while trying to guess what you want them to do instead.

Say the Action

What do you say instead of Don’t? Say the action you want to see (or hear). Now you’re using Active Language. Statements like Sit on a chair, Walk to the car, Say please, Hold my hand, Look both ways are all examples of Active Language. When you say the behaviour you want so see, your child who knows what to do, and how to do it. That way, they are more likely to behave the way you expect.

Use 3-5 words

Keep it simple. You are better off saying only 3-5 words at a time when telling children your expectations. When learning new information, we can only process between 3-5 blocks of information at a time. This is known as Cognitive Load. Overload your children with too many words, and they will soon forget what you said.

Avoid Umbrella Statements

Sometimes people make the mistake of using positive language in the affirming, feel good sense when setting expectations. Statements like Be  Prepared, Be respectful,  Be responsible appear to be positive, but can be just as confusing as negative statements starting with No or Don’t  – because they don’t say what to do.  Words like ready,  respectful  and responsible describe what to be, not what to do.

Umbrella statements are often used because they can cover a range of behaviours in one statement. This means they can have more than one interpretation. This can be confusing for your child because they may not always be sure of what they are expected to do.

Say it Four Ways

Once you say something, it is gone. It can’t be reheard unless it is repeated or recorded and played back. Seeing a picture or reading words can be seen again, so it can stay in our memory for longer. If you want to stop repeating yourself, back up what you say with written words, pictures and gestures.

Communication is Key

Remember these 5 steps to make sure your child understands what you mean

  1. Say the action you want to see
  2. Don’t say Don’t
  3. Avoid Umbrella Statements
  4. Use 3-5 words
  5. Say it 4 ways: spoken and written words with pictures and gestures


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Published On: May 18th, 2021 / Categories: In the News, News /