by Leigh Swanson

If there was a recording of you speaking to your child throughout any given day, how many times do you think you’d hear yourself using these negating words below?

  • Don’t
  • Stop
  • Quit
  • No

You might be surprised to learn that you are likely using these words throughout the day when interacting with your child.

As a parent, I bet you believe it is your job to correct your child’s behavior by telling your child what NOT to do. Unfortunately, this approach creates power struggles and often leaves children and parents lost in negativity.

What if you could direct, influence and shape your child’s behavior in a way that yields the results you want and lends to greater joy and peace at home?

With this one powerful parenting technique you can change the mood in your home, improve your relationship with your child, reduce stress and see the desired behavior from  your child.

What’s this one powerful parenting technique?

Eliminate all negating words from your vocabulary.

Instead of telling your child what not to do, tell her clearly and kindly what you expect.

For example, if she is poking her brother you might say, “Mia, please keep your hands to yourself,” instead of saying, “Stop hitting your brother!”

Instead of saying, “Don’t play with your food,” you could say, “Please keep your food on your plate and use your fork.”

Ask yourself, “What is the desirable behavior I want to see?”

By making that small change in your words you create an opportunity for your child to go from doing something you don’t want to doing exactly as you ask.

When your child exhibits desirable behavior, you have an opportunity to reinforce the behavior you want to see and help your child to feel good about his choices by encouraging the desirable behavior.

For example, if when you remind your child to keep her hands to herself and she cooperates you can say, “Thank you Mia. I see you are choosing to keep your hands to yourself and I appreciate that.”

With this one powerful parenting technique you can see more positive behavior and more peaceful interactions with your child.

Leigh Swanson, LAPC counsels adolescents and provides expert knowledge and support for parents. Leigh is available for private parenting consultations and offers workshops for parents in the community. You can reach Leigh at 404-436-1028 or via email