Ditch the 'dont's'

Ditch the ‘dont’s’

It’s half term and as I was out walking today, I went through the park where several parents (mainly mums, or females) were with their children. Then I visited a local cafe with plenty more mums and children. What I heard a lot of the time from the adults, was “Don’t”, there were lots of don’t do this or don’t do that. I appreciate it’s our job to keep our children safe and teach them well, what’s fascinating is how we focus so much on what we don’t want them to do and not on what we do want 🙂 When our children are almost constantly being told ‘don’t, it’s not surprising they think of us as mithering and bothering them and that’s not a great definition of mothering now is it?

We would do well to ditch the ‘don’ts’ and tell them what we do want instead 🙂 The fascinating fact is that the unconscious mind (which is responsible for running approximately 90-95% of what we do!) cannot directly process negatives, so doesn’t immediately respond to ‘don’t’! Let’s do this quick exercise. Right now, whatever you do, don’t think about an elephant. Remember I do not want you to think about an elephant! Chances are, you thought about an elephant and even if you didn’t and you thought about a polar bear or a giraffe, you still HAD to first think about an elephant, to know what it was I didn’t want you to think of! Makes sense doesn’t it? 🙂

Be aware how many times you are telling your children what not to do and start to reword it and ask for what you do want. They are not mind readers and don’t know what you want if all you do is tell them what you don’t want. Imagine if you went to a travel agency and instead of saying where you’d like to go you just said “I don’t want to go to Turkey” …. how would they know where you do want to go?! Imagine going to book a train ticket and saying “I don’t want to go to Edinburgh” … You get the picture 🙂

Six Simple Ways for Getting Them to Do What you Want

  1. Ask them to “walk on the pavement” when you don’t want them to walk on the grass or ask them to walk when you don’t want them to run.
  2. Make the suggestion, “Tidy your room…”, not “don’t leave your room a mess”
  3. Remind them to, “Keep your money safe, or keys, or phone …” rather than, “Don’t lose your money, or keys or phone”
  4. Say, “Be home on time” instead of telling them “Don’t be late”
  5. Ask them to, “Close doors quietly…” not “Don’t bang doors”
  6. Say, “Speak to me with respect” rather than “Don’t speak to me like that”

And adding please is always helpful too. 🙂