How many times have you asked your child to put their shoes or coat on or do several things every day in which their reply is 'NO' and the start of a battle? How many times have you asked your child to go up to bed or brush their teeth or tidy their room in which their reply is 'NO'. How many times a day do you ask and they say, 'NO!
I was at soft play yesterday with my five-year-old where I overheard a Dad make the classic mistake of saying to his daughter, "Do you want to put your shoes on now?" and she replied "NO!". I had to chuckle because then ensued the cajoling and the bribery that we all do just to get the little darlings out the door.
You see the big mistake he made was when he asked. It is in that crucial first instance when we say "Do you want to put your shoes on?" Ahhhhhhh NOPE!! "Do you want to go to bed now?" Aaaahhhhhhhh NOPE! "Do you want to get your coat on?" Hahhahhahahaha aaa 'NO!'.
Give a child the option of putting shoes on and going or the implied option of keeping them off and staying at the soft play they will always choose the latter. We need to focus on the command, what we DO want them to do e.g. "Come and put your shoes on now" "Put your coat on please" "Bedtime now, up we go". Never give them an implied better option because they will always try and take that.
Giving them options and choices is great to grow a sense of empowerment and build decision-making capabilities, but I recommend only giving them choices between two things you want them to have or do. For example, "Do you want to put your shoes on now or in two minutes when I've finished putting Jame's shoes on?" "Do you want to brush your teeth before the story or after?" "You can get dressed whilst watching your program or it will be turned off and I'll get you dressed without watching your program?" By allowing them to decide between two choices YOU are happy with gives them a sense of power over the situation and will enhance their decision-making capabilities for years to come.
When I started to change my language in this way I was so surprised at how often I asked my kids to do things instead of focusing on the command; and just how well they responded once I changed.
Try it and see.
Trish, Founder of WiggleBums & WiggleKids x
My eldest is nearly 18 and I so wish I knew then what I know now. Although, to be fare it has seen us navigate the teenage years relatively unscathed!. My daughter is 5 and has been raised on this technique, that quite literally changed our lives!
I didn’t realise how important language actually is in influencing people’s behaviour until I started to put it into practice. It was a challenge at the beginning, because we are all, to one degree or another, brought up in a similar fashion when it comes to language and the words that our chosen to speak with our children. I believe this technique is revolutionary and everyone who cares for children ought to be taught it as it benefits both children and adults alike.
Simply put, we need to ask our children what we DO want of them and not what we don’t. The brain at this age is very undeveloped and hasn’t learnt to recognise ‘negatives’ such as ‘don’t’ ‘try’ and ‘stop’. They are just making sense of language and what it all means and we take it for granted that they can interpret what we are asking from them. So when we ask them to do something we actually DON’T want them to do it is all very confusing. We are asking them to work out not only the words and their meaning but also what it is exactly we are asking of them to do. It’s much easier to deliver a straight forward, positive command; for example:
“If you don't eat your tea you won’t get any pudding”
The command they are hearing is ‘eat your tea and you won’t get any pudding’
See how confusing this is for them and the focus is on not getting any pudding!
Flip it to:
”Eat your tea and you can have some pudding”
“If you don’t get your shoes on we won’t go too the park”
They are hearing ‘get your shoes on and we won’t go to the park’
”Get your shoes on and we can go to the park’
They hear ‘RUN’
“Don’t spill that!”
They hear ‘Spill that’
”Keep the water in the cup’
You will be surprised just how many times a day we command our children to do the stuff we DON’T want them to do and they, in their innocent way responds perfectly; by doing it. So start to ‘FLIP’ your language for the opposite and positive, what you DO want them to do and see how your lives blossom. Ask your self “What is it that I really want them to do?” Because remember, our children only ever want to please and do what is asked of them and will always live up to your expectations of them; no matter how low or high that is. They are only after praise and love and kindness and connection and clear direction. This technique wraps all of that up and helps create a super positive growth mindset for both you and your child which will have a huge impact for years to come.
If you feel too, I’d love to hear how this changes your daily experience; please share in the thread.
Trish, WiggleBums/Kids Founder x