Thursday 27 February 2014


Constructive Words to Use With Your Kids

We all know, yelling does not help. We gain more cooperation by talking respectfully and calmly to our kids, thereby maintaining their dignity.

But I find myself often at a loss for words, and kept repeating the same things that sounded like a broken record at best, or yelling at worst.

Here are some practical language I have gathered from various sources to help myself. I hope it will help you too. I will return to this post to update it.

Accept & Affirm...

- Say, “You did it! And you were careful!”

- Say, “I’m so happy to see you. I missed you!” Big hug, big smile.

- Say, “Welcome home. It’s nice to have the family all together.”

- Say, “J, because you were so good in the store today, Mom will buy you a special treat.”

- Say, “Great job catching the ball, J. I can see how much your practice has helped you.”

- Say, “J, I’m listening to you play the piano. I can hear how much you have improved over last week by just adding 5 minutes more to your practice time.”

- Say, “What a good job of staying in the lines, J.”

- Say, "Great! Now that you've set the table, we can all eat right away. And I know everybody's hungry!"

- Say, "Tell me about your drawing. I see that you like purple"

- Say, “I see red, blue and yellow! Can you tell me about your picture?” instead of saying "What a beautiful picture!"

- Say, "You're right, Maria does read well. And you're a great singer."

- Say, "I believe in you. I see your effort. Keep going!"

- Say, "I love you, no matter who you are or what you do."

- Say, "You made your bed without being asked — that's terrific!"

- Say, "I was watching you play with your sister and you were very patient."

- Say, "You really tried hard on that!" instead of saying, "Good job!" focus on the effort rather than the result.

- Say, “I really like it when you cooperate!” instead of "good boy."

- Say, “I saw you share your toy with your friend.”

- Say, “Wow you really tried hard on that!” instead of "You're so clever!"

Say in Positives...

- Say, "Kris, when I throw the ball, I want you to take your front foot, your right foot and step forward – move it towards me when you swing." instead of "Don’t bail out."

- Say, "See how carefully you can carry your cereal to the table" instead of saying "Don’t spill your cereal on your way to the table."

- Say, "You're trying very hard and you almost have it!" instead of "Not like that. Let me show you."

- Say, "You've done a really good job cleaning up. I try to fold my shirts instead of crumpling them up on the shelf, though. That keeps them from getting wrinkled."

- Say, "The math facts need to be memorized, how shall we work together to make this happen over the next two weeks?"

- Say, "Obey Mommy and stay in bed." instead of "Don't get out of bed."

- Say, "You need to show kindness to your sister." instead of "Don't hit your sister."

- Say, "You need to learn to become a good listener." instead of "Don't talk so much."

- Say, "Chew quietly with your mouth closed." instead of "Don't chew with your mouth open."

- Say, "Be responsible and clean up after yourself." instead of "Don't leave a mess for everyone else to clean up."

Guide Child Towards Helpfulness...

- Say, “It would if helpful if you…
  • brought your dishes to the dishwasher.”
  • took out the trash now.”
  • kept your hands in your pockets."
  • put your feet underneath your desk.”
- Add, “Will you do that now?”

- Say, “Remember a few months ago when you helped me take out the trash? That was such a big help. Thanks!” instead of "If you do 'x', then I'll give you 'y'", then allow your child to come to the conclusion that helping out is fun and intrinsically rewarding.

Give a Challenge...

- Say, "I bet you can't put the silverware away before I put the glasses away."

Play Let's Pretend...

- Say, "Okay, let's pretend this is an empty bowl from breakfast. What can we do with it? We can...put it on our heads! Is that a good idea? No. Okay, we can...throw it in the bathtub! No? Okay, we can...put it in the sink!"

Use Descriptive Language...

- Say, “Shoes belong in the closet. You need to put your shoes in the closet.”

- Say, “Your dishes go in the dishwater when you leave the table. You need to put your dishes in the dishwasher when you leave the table.”

- Say, “Your coat and lunch box belong to your cubby. You need to put your coat and lunch box in your cubby now.”

- Say, “You need a pencil to do your work.”

- Say, “Go back outside. Good, now come back in, and hang the coat up when you come in.” Cheer when he does it.

Highlight the Carrot...

- Say, "Sure I want to take you to the park. But remember, first we need to clean up after lunch."

- Say, "Remember, you always feed the dog right before we set the table."

- Say, "Grandma's rule says when you've put your clothes away, then you can go outside."

- Say, "We'll start as soon as you're done with homework/done with chores/done picking up your toys."

Ask Questions...

- Ask, "What will you need in your backpack tomorrow at school?"

- Ask, "What equipment will you need to have at your swim class this afternoon?"

- Say, "Tell me all about what you did at school, and then when you're finished I'll need to make our dinner."

Use I-messages...

- Say, “I am annoyed when I have to wait for your in the morning and leave after 7:45 because I need to get to work on time.”

- Say, “I am afraid when you climb so high.”

- Say, “We are going to the museum tomorrow. I’d like us to decide what special rules we’ll need to prevent any problems.”

- Say, “When I find paints spilled on the table, I am irritated, because I have to spend my time to clean it up.”

- Say, “I am uncomfortable with the noise level in this room.” Instead of, “Be quiet!” (command)

- Say, “I worry when you don’t come home on time. I’d like you to call me when you’re going to be late so I don’t worry about you.”

Providing Alternatives...

- Say, “Walls are not for drawing. Would you rather draw on the plain paper or on the colored paper?”

- Say, “I am uncomfortable with rudeness. Rephrase and speak respectfully or take a moment and calm down and then talk to me.”

- Say, “What you said was disrespectful. Disrespectful will not work. Do you want to start again respectfully or would you rather take some time to calm down before you talk to me.”

- Say, “What you said was disrespectful. Disrespectful is absolutely unacceptable. Do you want to start again respectfully or would you rather take some time to calm down before you talk to me.”

- Say, “You may not ride your bike on the busy street, because it is dangerous. Would you rather ride it on the driveway or on the back porch?”

- Say, “Streets are for cars. Would you rather ride it on the driveway or on the back porch?”

- Say, “Streets are dangerous for children and bikes. Would you rather ride it on the driveway or on the back porch?”

- Say, “Lunches don’t belong on the floor. You may put it in your cubby or in your backpack.”

- Say, “It’s important to turn in all of your homework. You can turn in your Social Studies page 12 assignment by 3:00 tomorrow or go to ZAP (Zeros Aren’t Permitted program) on Wednesday.”

- Say, “It’s NOT OK to hit your brother. He could get hurt or he could get angry and hurt you. If you’d like something to hit, you may hit a pillow, the couch or the mattress.” instead of threatening "Stop it right now, or else..."

Establish "Grandma's" Rules, Policies & Responsibilities...

- Ask, “Who can tell me the rules for the store?”

- Say, "Grandma's rule says when you've done what you have to do, then you get to do what you want to do."

- Say “The policy is…
  • everyone makes his bed in the morning.”
  • everyone who brought a jacket wears it outside to play.”
  • no food in the classroom except during celebrations and special projects.”
- Say, “The rule is…
  • he who makes the mess, cleans it up.”
  • if you play, you help pick up.”
  • raise your hand and be called on before speaking.”
- Say “It is your responsibility to…
  • feed the dog.”
  • pick up the dress-up clothes when you are finished playing.”
  • put your cup in the trash when you’re done with lunch.”
  • turn your work in on time.”
  • make sure your homework gets finished and is returned to me on time.”
  • ask for make-up work after you have been absent.”
  • leave petrol in the car after you’ve used it.”
- Say “You don’t have the right to…
  • speak disrespectfully to me or anyone.”
  • hit your brother.”
  • hurt anyone in this class with your hands or your words.”
When handling Anger...

- Say, “When you throw the scissors, I am scared and furious, because someone could get seriously hurt. I expect you to ask for permission before you use the scissors.”

- Say, “When you continue to shout your question, I am irritated, because others need a turn too. It is important that you let others speak.”

-Say, “When you continue to shout your question, I am frustrated, because everyone’s learning is disrupted. I expect you to raise your hand and wait to be called.

- Say, “When you continue to shout your question, I am frustrated, because everyone’s learning is disrupted. You do not have the right to disrupt others’ learning.

- Say, “Kris is talking a lot in class. I am concerned that he is disturbing the other children and that he is not learning all he can.”

- Say, "Pushing Nina isn't nice. It can hurt. Please don't push."

- Say, “Were you feeling frustrated because your friends weren’t listening to your idea?” instead of "Why did you do that?"

Before Punishment...

- Say: “J, in your hurry, you are forgetting that your bike could be stolen or ruined if left outside. To help to remind you, I will hang on to it for 2 days.”

After Punishment/Consequence...

- Say, “It was a long day and a tough lesson, but you learned it. It takes a lot of courage to learn from a mistake.”

- Say, "I'm sorry you're cold — how can you remember to bring your towel next time?"

When Kids Refuse to share...

- Say: “If Amy doesn’t want to share with you, that’s fine. God wants sharing to come from our hearts or it is not real sharing.”

Give Reminders...

- Say, “J, Auntie A is coming over for lunch today. Be sure to say hello to her when she comes in. That would be very respectful.

- Say, “J, remember there is to be no running in the church. That is where we worship God.”

- Say, “J, Mom is going to give you a warning: do not play with grandpa’s office doors.”

- Say, “If you are not ready by 8.30am, you will not go to XXX today.”

Tackling Whinning...

- Say, “J, I want you to listen carefully to Mom’s instruction and think before you respond. There is to be no whining.”

- Say, “J, repeat after me; ‘Yes Mommy, no whining.’”

Handling Bad Talk...

- Say, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Verbalize Your Child's Feelings

- Try holding space for your child as he cries and say, “It’s OK to cry. Everyone needs to cry sometimes. I’ll be right here to listen to you.” instead of "Don't cry"

- Say, “You’re really disappointed that we can’t go to the park right now, huh?”

- Say, “I know you really want to have a play date with Sarah this weekend and we’ll do our best to make that happen. Please remember that sometimes unexpected things come up, so I can’t guarantee that it will happen this weekend.” instead of "I promise..."

- Say, "I can tell that you are upset with me. Let's talk about how I have hurted and angered you. I need to seek your forgiveness."

Saying No to Your Child

- Say, “I know you really wanted to do that, but it’s not going to work out for today,”

- Say, “I’m sorry you’re disappointed and the answer is no”.

Show Appreciation...

- Say, "Thanks for hanging up your coat!"

- Say, "It's so helpful when you share with your baby sister!"

- Discipline for Life
- Growing Kids God's Way
- How to Say it to Your Kids?
- Love & Respect in the Family by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

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