There comes a time in every child’s life when almost everything they do prompts you to say phrases like “stop,” “watch out” and “no, no, no!”
Indeed, when danger lurks, parents need to communicate this in some way, be it to a toddler investigating a socket or a child ignoring a red traffic light.
But for key phrases like “be cafeful!” and “stop!” to have the necessary urgency, you’ll need to make sure you don’t overuse them, because once they become a kneejerk reaction at the slightest risk of something going wrong, they’ll only go in one ear and out the other.
“We are constantly saying what children should not do. It’s better to give them information about what they should do,” says education expert Nicola Schmidt, who has written about topics like educating children without scolding them.
“Please hold on tight!”, “Please run slowly!”, “Please wait until I’m with you before going any further!” are alternative examples Schmidt suggests, where you can emphasise what the child can do.
To prevent children from becoming dulled the these key words and not reacting at all, parents can also try replacing a “no” with a “yes.”
“No, you can’t have any more chocolate” might thereby become “Yes, I can understand that you want to eat chocolate all day long. I’d like too as well, but…” Schmidt gives an example.
Refrain from shouting “stop” whenever there’s problem, and you’ll be saving this word for when there’s a really seroious situation – and then it will have a real impact.