When They Don’t Want to Talk…

I walked out of the reading lab to find a student sitting on the picnic bench outside my room.  Everyone else from 3rd grade was gone, but here he sat.  Serious, silent and visually distraught.  One of the instructional assistants sat next to him, looking lost.  I mouthed, “do you need help?” and she shook her head.

I walked over and crouched down to be at his eye level.  He avoided my eye contact but didn’t shy away.  I asked him what was wrong and he didn’t respond.  I told him that I would let the aide go to her next class and that I would sit with him for a little while.  I dismissed the other teacher and sat next to the 8 year old boy.  I asked him once more what was wrong.  Again, I was met with silence.  My mind raced, trying to figure out what might be bothering this little guy.  I decided that if he wasn’t up for talking to answer that maybe he could nod ‘yes’ or ‘no’.  I started in with a series of questions that could be answered with the movement of his head.  “Are you upset?” he shook his head.  “Are you hurt?”  He nodded.  I learned that he wasn’t upset but he was hurt.  It seemed like he was warming up to me ever so slightly so I tried to get a voiced answer.  “It it your feelings that are hurt?  Or it is your body?”  When the question elicited no verbal response I reverted back to the yes and no questions.  “Are you feelings hurt?” Head shake.  “Is your body hurt?” Nod.  “Did it happen on purpose?” Negative.  “Was it an accident?”  It was.  I felt relieved.  “It is your head?”  It wasn’t, so I tried again. “Is it your stomach?” Nope.  “Your back?”  Bingo.  We were getting somewhere–ever so slowly.  I kept asking and found out that it had happened that morning at home.  I repeated back what I had learned, so he knew I was paying attention and trying to help.  “So you hurt your back this morning at home and it was an accident?”  He nodded as his eyes filled with tears.

I wanted to get him to talk and tried to think about what might be holding him back.  I let him know that I wanted to help him.  I assured him that it was okay if he cried when he answered–I didn’t mind at all.  I continued and told him that I could tell he was having a hard time and I wouldn’t make him go back to class until he was ready.  That seemed to do it.  He slowly started talking and crying.  As we talked he opened up and told me more about what had happened.  I reassured him that it would be okay and I knew that being hurt was no fun.  I told him that we would walk to the nurse’s office together and she would know what to do to help with the pain.  I assured him that everything would be alright and I was glad he let me know what was going on.  As we walked he was able to tell me him name and who his teacher was.

When we got to the nurse’s office I passed along the information I’d gleaned.  The school counselor walked in and I relayed the information to her as well.  I left, knowing that he was in good hands.

The next couple hours I thought about this experience and tried to figure out what I had learned.  Here are a few things that can help when talking to a child who is having a hard time communicating.  (And many of these can work with adults as well.)

– Get on their level.  Crouch, kneel or sit so you are as close to eye level as possible.

–  Be patient. Don’t give up quickly.  Give them time to think, process your questions, and be ready to answer.

–  Ask ‘yes’ and ‘no’ questions as needed.

–  Try to think of other factors that might be hindering their communication (in this case feeling anxious about crying or having to go back to class before they are ready) and try to ease those worries.

–  Let them know you care and you are sorry they are having a hard time.

–  Reassure them that it will be okay.

–  Acknowledge that you realize that it was difficult for them to share.  Let them know that you appreciate them opening up and sharing.

Model Appropriate Behavior

Should I bite back?

When I was a young mom, I was standing in the foyer of the church building talking with an experienced mom, who had raised several great kids. In the middle of our conversation her youngest son (who was the age of my oldest son) come to talk to her. I don’t remember why he was not happy but it appeared he was feeling like he was not getting the attention he needed. He kicked his mom in the shin. I remember thinking what a spoiled little boy he was and that I would never let my child kick me and get away with it. She looked down at him with a sad expression and said nicely, “Please don’t kick me, that hurts and it’s not kind”. Her response perplexed me and the experience stayed in my mind for years.

What should you do when your child kicks, or slaps or bites you? Instinct makes me want to lash out and hit them back.

Or, I use to wonder if I should do the same thing back, like bite, so he would know how it felt.

Now that I’m older I realize that adults should not imitate kids poor behavior, instead they should Model correct behavior. Rather than do the same thing back to them to show how it felt, kindly tell them what they did was not kind or acceptable. Express how it made you feel and what the consequences of doing it again will be.

The situation could go something like this:

Young child is stroking your cheek and suddenly slaps you.

 Make a sad face and say,

Ouch, that hurt me. It makes me sad when you hit. Let’s just love each other like this” stroke their face, or give a hug or kiss.

If they change their actions and are kind for a little while but then repeat the same negative behavior (often they will to test you to see what you’ll do the next time) tell them again that you’re sad when they hurt you and that if they choose to hurt you, they will need to be away from you (put them down if you are holding them, put some space between you and them etc).  Tell them,

“I like it better when you act sweet so we can be close to each other”.

             I don’t believe any learning happens when you scream at your noisy children, “Be quiet”. Or when you say, “Stop hitting each other” as you spank your child. That type of behavior is sending mixed messages. It’s like the old adage, “What you’re doing is yelling so loud I can’t hear what you’re saying”.

I know it’s hard to keep your cool when your child hits you, or kicks you or spits on you. But when it happens, say over and over in your mind, “I love this little person, I love this little person… Be kind… “ and try to remember to Model appropriate behavior.

You Have 2 Choices

You Have Two Choices copy

It’s likely that something like this, or a very similar situation, has happened to you.

You have a visitor at you house and you are sitting on your couch talking with them. Your toddler or pre-schooler is sitting right next to you playing a video game (or something else distracting) on a hand held device with the volume turned loud enough that it is interrupting your conversation.

Things you can say that are totally ineffective:

“Turn down the volume”.

“Please turn it down”.

“I told you to turn down the sound”.

“Turn that down or I’ll take it away”.

“Do you want to go sit down over there (pointing to the other side of the room) while 

            you play that game”? 

“Put that away and you can play it later”.

“Here, give that to me and let’s put it away”.

 OR You don’t say anything but just try to reach over and turn it down at which point your child hollers and pulls the device away from your reach.

It becomes awkward because there needs to be a change made but you don’t want to make a scene in front of your guest.

Here’s a more effective way to handle it –

1- State the problem

2- Give two choices

3- Implement the choice

Example of these steps:

(Excuse yourself from the conversation with the other adult and give your child 100% attention during this interaction)

1- Say, “The game you’re playing is too loud and I can’t hear what my friend is saying”.

2- Say, “Since I can’t hear my visitor because the sound is turned up too high, you have two choices. You can stay sitting here and turn it down or, you can keep it that loud and go sit on the other side of the room (or another suitable place)”.THEN don’t go back to your conversation with the other adult until the child has made and completed the choice. I think it’s so important that you keep your attention on the child until they have made a choice and carried it out.  That way your child knows you are not all talk and no action, and they know they can’t stall until you forget.

At this point your child has some options –

  1.  They can take one of the choices you offer and it’s over.
  2.  They can make a choice that was not one of the options you gave.
  3. They can ignore you (which is highly likely the first few times you try this).

1- If they choose option one, HALLELUJAH!  Thank them for cooperating.

2- If they want to make a choice that is not one you listed you say, “That was not one of            your choices”. Then repeat the options

3-If your child ignores you, say:

Which do you choose? Stay here and turn it down or go sit over there?”

Wait several seconds 

“You can make the choice or I’ll choose for you”


“It’s time to decide now. If you can’t decide what to choose I’ll choose for you”

The first time you do this your child might think you’re just talk

and won’t follow through. So there might be some resistance on

their part. But if you do this consistently, they will know they

might as well make a choice because it’s not going away.

“Okay, You didn’t choose so I’m going to choose you turn it down then you can stay sitting close to me.” Then physically reach over and turn down the volume.

 At this point you might have to physically (gently) take the device and turn it down. There may be some screaming and a tantrum. To which you calmly reply, “You had a chance to make a choice and you choose not to”.


In Review:

State the problem

Offer two choices

Repeat the choices if they don’t act

Stay calm

Keep your attention on the situation until it’s over

Be consistent – use the same word pattern every time.

Teaching a child to make choices is SO important. It will serve them well as a child and an adult.

Try to create other situations where your child has an opportunity to make a choices, such as:

“Would you like to eat cereal or pancakes for breakfast”? (follow the same word pattern as       described above).

“Do you want to buckle you seat belt or would you like me to do it for you”?

“Would you like to wear the red shirt or the blue shirt today”?



A Little Helper at the Store

I saw a child sitting in the grocery card being pushed by her mother. The child was holding a bag containing several tomatoes. It was a time of the year when tomatoes were not cheap, so the bag of tomatoes the little girl was holding was a relatively expensive purchase. It was apparent, by the short conversation I heard between her and her mother, that the young girl did not like tomatoes.

Here’s what I saw and heard:

When the mother turned her head, the little girl tossed the bag of tomatoes out of the cart, onto the floor. When the mother turned back around and saw what had happened she was angry. She slapped the little girls hand and said something like, “don’t do that!”  She put the bag of tomatoes back into the cart, turned her back, and again the little girl found the bag of tomatoes and tossed them from the cart. When the mother turned around and saw that it had happened again she was even more angry and proceeded to punish the child more.

What could have been more effective and kind?

Child throws a bad of tomatoes out of the cart.

Parent: Oh, don’t throw food out of the cart or it will get smashed or dirty and we’ll have to pay for food we don’t want to eat. Don’t you want us to buy tomatoes?”

Child: “I hate tomatoes!”

Parent: “You don’t have to eat these tomatoes if I buy them” (It’s okay for a child to not like tomatoes, there are things you don’t like, aren’t there?). “There are other vegetables that we can buy for you. But dad and I really like tomatoes and want to eat some but we don’t like them when they’re all squishy. So please be really gentle with them. Here, if you give them to me, I’ll put them over here (somewhere out of their sight and reach) and you can hold something else. The carrots? You like carrots don’t you?” (Or whatever food they like, preferably something not as easy to damage).

Remember, if a child who doesn’t have great verbal skills or doesn’t know how to express himself yet does something you consider inappropriate, ask yourself, “What is this little person thinking?”

Perhaps they do not like the food you are trying to buy.

Maybe they want to see if a round tomato bounces, like a ball.

Maybe they wonder if something will make a noise if it’s dropped.

Perhaps they wants to see if their juice poured on the floor makes the same shape every time.

Maybe they are just tired of sitting, or bored and want something to do.

That brings us to …

Activities to entertain and educate kids while at the store:

While pushing through the store ask your child to look for certain categories of things:

  • Items that are green, blue, all white, etc.
  • Packages that have a picture of a person or animal on them.
  • Find things that have writing on them. Find ones that contain the same letter of the alphabet that their name begins with.
  • Look for things that are bigger or smaller than their hand.
  • Find things that are cold and put them all together in one place in the basket (let them touch each item to their cheek to test the temperature).
  • Find items that are soft that can easily break or be smashed; tomatoes or eggs. Or things that are hard, like canned food, potatoes, or carrots.

These activities can be continued all through the store. Chances are that you’ll get tired of these “games” before they do. Keeping a child busy and involved can eliminate boredom, which in turn often eliminates poor behavior.

Appropriate Behavior or “Be Good”


 In the grocery store I saw a mother who had a young child sitting in the front of her shopping cart. Apparently the child had been doing something the mother didn’t approve of so had been made to sit in the basket. The child was screaming to get out and the mother asked, “Are you ready to be good” to which the child answered, “Yes”. I though to myself, “What does it mean to be good?” It means different things at different places, right? For example, it would be “good”, or appropriate behavior for a child to run wild and yell at the park, but not at the grocery store or inside a church. So perhaps an important thing for a parent to do is to make it clear to a child what their expectations are in different locations.

Now What Do I Say??

There are so many answers a parent could give their child if they are not behaving while they’re at the store. I decided against the, “don’t say this, say this” method because I didn’t want to write any things you should NOT say, because that’s probably what you’ll remember when it’s time to act. Instead, here a some suggestions of things you COULD SAY to your child while you’re in the store –

At the grocery store, if a child has been made to ride in the cart because they keep wondering off:

  Parent: “If I let you get out of the cart will you stay close where I can see you?”


Parent: “If you choose to stay where I can see you and not open the things we haven’t paid for yet, you can be out of the cart. If you choose to run away, or mess things up in the store, you’ve choose to get back into the cart, do you understand?” Get them out and say, “Okay, lets see you make some really good choices.”


 Parent: “I’m concerned when you run away where I can’t see you because you might get lost and I won’t be able to find you and that would make me feel worried and sad”


 Parent: “I feel concerned that if you run away to a place I can’t see you, someone else might try to take you home with them. They might not be kind to you.  I don’t want that, I want you to be safe with me” This is something I tried not to say unless it was absolutely necessary because it can scare the child. But now days it’s a sad reality. If the problem becomes chronic, it may be what they need to hear.




Now What Do I Say??? At the Grocery Store


Last week we wrote about kid’s behavior at the store. Today I’m posting some ideas for conversations you could have with your child in the store. The dialogs you will have with your child will never be verbatim, but hopefully these scenarios will give you ideas about teaching your child something new and hopefully avoiding a tantrum.

Toddler: (sitting in the cart) “Stop, I want to see that” (or just pointing and hollering or crying depending on the age.

 Mom: “What is it you see?” Go over and get the item and show it to your child. If they want to hold it, tell them, “Be careful, because it doesn’t belong to us”. “Does this look fun to take home?”  (Discuss what is being looked at, what it does, how fun it would be to have one, etc.). Most likely the conversation will eventually turn to the fact that the child wants to take it home.

Child: “I want this”.

Mom: ”Let’s look and see how much it costs”. (Show them the price tag and explain that a price tag shows how much money one has to pay to be able to take the item home) “Do you have any money?”

 Child: “No, do you have money?”

Mom: “I have money for food for our family and to buy your clothes and shoes, but I don’t have lots of extra money to buy all the toys and candy we want. Be careful to not tell the child you have no money because they will wonder why you can buy food if you don’t have any money. Also, when kids get a little older, if they’ve heard over and over, “We don’t have any money”, they can worry that there is not enough money to buy food, or the necessities of life.

I grew up in a family that had very limited money. But, ironically, I never worried. I don’t ever remember being concerned that we would run out of food. I even had the impression that my mom could get me anything that I really needed.  It’s all in the way we verbalize things for our children.

There isn’t always time to stop and look at every thing your child would like to see.  Sometimes it’s okay to say, “We’ve looked at a few really fun things today, but we’re out of time and need to go home”. Remember too, that kids like to have some advanced warning. If you’ve used as much time as you can looking and dreaming tell your child, “You can look close at one more thing, then we’ll have to see the other things another day”.

Also, remember it’s fun to dream and healthy to teach your child to use their imagination. While at the store you could have a conversation like this –

Parent: “What would you do if you owned this whole store?” 

Or, “If I could have anything it this whole store for free I would get…  What would you get?”











What to do…

Grocery-Store-TantrumsWe’ve all been there. Standing in the check out line at the grocery store when a child (yours or someone else’s) starts crying or throwing a fit because they want something. All those candy bars and gum within reach, right at the place where you have to wait for the cashier!  It can be very embarrassing. But how do we avoid it?

First step Preventative

  • Before you go to the store make sure your child is not hungry, thirsty or tired. If they are, you are asking for trouble.
  • Take snacks (even if they aren’t hungry when you leave the house you’ll be ready when they are).
  • Establish expectations
  • Talk to your child about what you are going to buy at the store. Maybe show them your shopping list. If they have a little money, or if you plan to buy them a little treat, let them make their own shopping list (they can draw pictures if they can’t write yet)

Warning – even thought you had that great talk before you left home, sometimes seeing so may desirable things at the store may still get the best of that cute little person of yours and there may still be a tantrum. Just remember, learning is a process and changes often take some time but if you’re consistent it will happen.

At the store-

  • Use, “I understand” phrases. For example if they see something they think they just cannot live without, say, “I understand that it looks so delicious (or fun to play with, etc) but that’s not on our list today”, or “we can’t buy it today”.
  • Let them dream. I think every child, at some point, is going to see something they want at the store. Even I do, don’t you?  The difference is that we know that things cost money and that we can’t have everything we see. And that’s what we need to teach our children. But remember, even though we don’t buy everything we see that we want, we sometimes like to pick things up and look at them and dream about having them. When we can we should offer that same courtesy to our small children. Sometimes we think if we let them get close to an item they want (that we’re not going to buy) or hold it, that we have to buy it for them. But they can look and dream and not always buy.

Today while shopping at Joanns I was inspired by a young mom and her child. I’m guessing the daughter was about 3 years old and they were looking in the cake decorating section of the store. The little girl wanted something and the conversation went something like this:

Child: “Mom I wanna have this” (she was holding something that was pretty to her but it was not something she needed or would even know how to use).

Mom: “Oh, it’s nice”

Child: “I’m going to put it in the basket”

Mom: “You can put it in the basket for a little while but were not going to buy it today. You can just hold it for a while, then we’ll put it back”.

The little girl put the item in the basket like she was pretend shopping. Later it went back on the shelf.

If, after you have the pre-shopping talk, make a list, use “I understand” phrases, and try to talk them through their feelings and your child STILL throws a fit, you have some choices:

Stop. Stop walking, stop looking at things on the shelf, put down what ever you are holding, smile and look your child in the eyes.  Give them 100% of your kind attention. If they are calm enough to let you touch them take their face in you hands, stroke their cheeks and do some verbal reflecting.  Ask, “What do you need?”, or “Are you feeling sad?”  After they tell you what they’re thinking, you can tell them how you feel and what you would like to have happen.

If your child is out of control and can’t be reasoned with you could park your cart by customer service, tell them you’ll be right back and ask them not to put the things away and take your child outside for a few minutes to cool down, or re-set. Have a little Time In together.

And, last but not least, remember that if your child learns that you are not going to buy them everything they want, buy them something every time you go to the store, or buy them something to keep them quiet, they’ll learn that throwing a tantrum is  a waste of time and won’t do them any good.

“You’re Not my Friend Anymore”


One parent asked, “What do you say when your child tells you, ‘You’re not my friend anymore’”.

Read between the lines. What is your child really saying? They are probably feeling disappointed or angry because they can’t have something they want or do what they want.

If they had the vocabulary or ability they could say, “I’m feeling disappointed because you won’t let me eat cookies before dinner.” Or, “I’m frustrated that my brother played with my toy without asking”. But what child says that? None I’ve ever known. That’s because they haven’t learned how to identify a feeling, label it and express it correctly. Since they can’t identify and label the underlying cause of their frustration, they just use some words they suspect will give them some power or let someone know things are not going their way.  And they are usually right, it’s hard for a parent to not react when their child tells them, “I hate you, I want to go live with grandma”.

Becky Bailey in her book, Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline writes “Children are not born knowing how to handle emotions, so they often rely on unproductive strategies. ”  She suggests – and I agree – that it’s a good idea to verbally reflect back what your child might be feeling and not rely too much on your child’s words because they can be misleading.

A few suggestions of some common reflection responses she gives are:

Child’s words                            Parental Reflections

“You’re stupid”                        “You seem frustrated with me”

“I hate you”                               “You seem angry with me”

“He’s a jerk”                              “You seem irritated with your brother”

For me this technique felt awkward at first. But as I practiced it became more natural to do. And if you get in the habit of reflecting your child’s feelings, your child will learn the names of different feelings they are experiencing and how to express them appropriately.  I agree with Bailey who says, “When [a parent] reflects the feelings behind [their child’s] behavior, [the parent] opens the communications channels between herself and her child”. After you’ve stated (reflected) how you think your child is feeling the hope is that they will continue talking and give you some more information about what’s going on it that little mind of theirs. Then you can use the experience to help them know how to better handle a similar situation in the future.

I know life can get busy and sometimes we don’t have the time or emotional energy to analyze what’s happening and reflect. So occasionally you can just smile and answer, “I’m sorry because you’re still my friend”.

Replacement Words

I’m a strong believer in replacement behavior. To me, that means that if you’re trying to get rid of unwanted words in your vocabulary you replace them with more desirable ones.

Last week we wrote about saying no to no by using the word, “No” less in your parenting vocabulary. Using the replacement word theory you would need to find other things to say when you feel the urge to yell, “No” or “Don’t” at your child.

I think one of the greatest words to add to your parenting vocabulary is, “Choose”. When you give your child a choice it does several good things:

* It takes the ownership of the situation off from you and gives it to your child.
* It helps them learn about natural consequences.
* It keeps the parent from always being the boss (and from being bossy).
* It helps eliminate unwanted nagging.

When my sentences contain the word, “Choose” they usually starts with, “If”, or “When”. If you get in the habit of starting a discipline sentence with one of these two words it can help keep you from saying, “NO” so many time in one day.

Some situations when this might come in handy—

At Home

You have two kids that are arguing or fighting:

            “If you choose to argue or fight you are choosing to be alone for a while”.

Your child does not want to eat their dinner:

           “When you choose to not eat your dinner you are choosing to not have dessert”.                 Now with this one I have to say, sometime adults eat when they are not hungry                    (boredom, stress, habit) but kids don’t.  So in my opinion, if they don’t eat, that’s                  okay, maybe they are just not hungry.  BUT adults need to make sure that if their                child does want to eat (right before or after dinner) it needs to be healthy things. No             dinner, no dessert!

Running feet are to be used outside, not in the house.  If you choose to run in the                  house then you are choosing to go outside”.

In a classroom

            When you choose to bother the people around you then you choose to have your               desk moved all by itself.

             If you choose to talk in line then you choose to go to the end where you aren’t by             others.

If your child chooses not to change their behavior THEN the follow up line for any of these situations should start with, “I can tell by your actions that you have chosen to…” . This might feel awkward to say at first, but with practice it will roll of your tongue. And your children will soon learn the pattern and know just what to expect and that they are responsible for their own actions.

Sometimes, as a parent, I felt that the natural consequence was not harsh enough for how frustrated I felt over what was happening. But then I’d try to remember that I was not trying to be unfair, mean, or make them miserable. I was just trying to teach my children how to make the best choice.

I have a friend who is a therapist. In his practice he would counsel children and I thought he was very good at what he did. But he said that at home sometimes it was hard to remember the things he did for work. He told a story when he had taken his young son to the store with him and the son had behaved very poorly. So he told his son that if he did not choose to behave better that he would not be able to come to the store with him next time- Okay, that part was done right. But then he said that the next time he went to the store he really rubbed it in to his son that he was not going to get to go. He said, “I’m going to the store now. See, I’m getting my keys and I’m leaving, but you can’t come with me because last time we were at the store together, you choose, by your actions, not to get to come this time”. That would have been enough, but he felt like he wanted to add, “So, I’m going now and I’m going to buy some fun things, but you won’t be there to share with me. Too bad you can’t go too”.

Being consistent (and remembering to carry through with a consequence) is SO IMPORTANT.  Otherwise our kids will think, “It doesn’t’ matter how badly I behave, my mom (or dad) won’t remember next time anyway”.  And the story from my counselor friend reminds us that a natural consequence is it’s own punishment, we don’t need to heap it on even more or keep bringing it up over and over but we do need to carry through with what we said.

And last, but not least; this method should involve no yelling or angry voices in a parent. It can and should be said nicely and matter of fact.

Say “No” to “No”

No is said several ways, “No”, “Don’t”, “Stop that” or “Shhhhh”.

When your child does something that you don’t want them to do it’s easy and tempting to say, “No” or, “Don’t”.  But if you say that often enough they will stop paying attention when they hear the word.

Instead, try giving an explanation. I love watching little people’s faces when you explain why and they soak it up—they’re just trying to figure out the world and giving detailed explanations really helps them do that.

If your child is jumping on the bed rather that saying, “No”, “Don’t do that”, or “Stop that right now”.  Try telling them WHY they should not be making that choice. Tell them, “If you jump on the bed it might break then you would have to sleep on the ground and that would not be warm or comfortable”. Or, “Jumping on your bed makes all the blankets and sheets come off and get dirty. I don’t want to make my bed again today, do you?”

Or if they are eating while sitting on the carpet, try explaining why you don’t want them to do that. Say, “When food gets on the carpet we can’t just wipe it up like we can when it’s on the table or tile. I don’t want to pay to have our carpet cleaned when food spills and if you don’t want to pay either, then you should choose to eat in the kitchen”.

Church is the classic “NO” time. For some reason it’s tempting to say “Shhhhhh” when a child asks a question during a reverent time.  I think it’s because we don’t want to be irreverent by talking. But chances are the more you “shhh” a child the more frustrated they will become, and that could get louder. Ask them if it the question can wait, if not have them whisper what they want and give them a quiet answer.

For example if the child is kicking the bench in front of them instead of, “Don’t”, try saying “The people sitting in the bench your kicking can feel it and it makes it hard for them to pay attention to what’s going on in church”.

If you are at the library and you child is treating a book rough rather than, “Stop”, tell them why it’s important to be careful with expensive books.

If you’re at the park and they dump sand on their sisters head… what should you do? YES—explain WHY that’s not a good idea.

Don’t throw the words, “No” and “Stop” out of your vocabulary. Save them for when your child is running out into the street or in a life-threatening situation where you need to act quickly – that’s where they belong.

A tip to help you break the “No” habit; if you start to say, “No” or “Don’t”, STOP, and start your sentence, instead, with “If” or “When”.  Tune in next week for some examples and sample words you can use to help you stop saying, “No” so much and help you learn to be a more affective parent.

Use each experience as a teaching moment. Remember they might not know why you want them to stop and saying, “No” is no explanation.