A compilation of phrases to stop saying to your kids

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Avoid: “Good work/boy/girl/job”
• “You really tried hard on that!”
• “You worked hard at it! That’s great”
• “I appreciate it so much when you cooperate!”
• “I saw how hard you were working.”

Avoid: “What a beautiful drawing!”
Try: “I see red, blue and yellow! Can you tell me about your drawing?”

Avoid: “No you can’t do that”
Try: “Let’s try this…”

Avoid: ‘Time to get up!’
Try: ‘Shall we get up now?’ (with the understanding that the answer might be yes or no)

Avoid: ‘Hop down, please.’
Try: ‘When you hop down, we can go and get ready for our trip.’

Avoid: ‘Put that away.’
Try: ‘Shall we put these away so no one trips over them?’

Avoid: ‘Get your bowl from the cupboard.’
Try: ‘I’ve got the muesli and the milk — can you please get your bowl? Then we’ll have everything we need.’

Avoid: “Don’t ignore me” or “Why aren’t you listening?”
Try: “I can see that you are not paying attention.”

Avoid: ‘Wash your hands, please.’
Try: ‘You’re getting good at remembering to wash your hands, aren’t you! Do you want me to turn the tap on for you or will you do it yourself?’

Avoid: ‘Don’t forget your shoes.’
Try: ‘We’ll all need shoes today because it’s so cold. Where are yours?’

Avoid: ‘Wipe your face.’
Try: ‘Your face is covered in smoothie! What shall we do about that?’

Avoid: “Come here.”
Try: ‘I’ve got something I want to talk to you about. Do you want to come and hear it?’ (with the understanding that the answer might be yes or no)

Avoid: “If you _____ then I’ll give you _____”
Try: “Thank you so much for helping me clean up!”

Avoid: “Stop it right now, or else!”
Try: “It’s NOT OK to hit your brother. I’m worried that he will get hurt, or he’ll retaliate and hurt you. If you’d like something to hit, you may hit a pillow, the couch or the bed.”

• “Share”
• “No, it’s okay! He had it first. Delia, remember to share!”
• “Look, she wants to play with the squishy caterpillar now. You need to share!”
• Hanging back and waiting
• Saying “Wait until she’s done”
• Sport-cast in neutral tone: “Emmeline and Jake want the same fire engine.”

Avoid: “Stop crying”
“It’s okay to be sad,”
• “I hear that you need space. I want to be here for you. I’ll stay close so you can find me when you’re ready,”
• “I will help you work it out,” and
• “I’m listening.”

Avoid: “Don’t run/X/Y”
“We walk inside”
• “We sit while we eat and drink”
• “In this home we…”

Avoid: “It’s time to eat. Okay.”
Try: “It’s time to” (eat/go…) (avoid following it up with “ok.”)

Avoid: “Be careful”

  • “Stay focused on what you’re doing.”
  • “What is your next move?”
  • “Do you feel safe there?”
  • “Take your time.”
  • “Does that branch feel strong and stable?”
  • “I’m here if you need me.”
  • “Please find a safe spot for your stick while you’re running.”
  • “Sticks need space. Sarah, look around you — do you have enough space to swing that big stick?”
  • “Please keep one end of your stick on the ground!”
  • “What’s your plan with that big stick?”
  • “Watch out for other people and give them lots of space.”
  • “Let’s move to this lower-traffic zone.”
  • “Rocks need space!”
  • “Before you throw that rock, what do you need to look for?”
  • “That rock looks really heavy! Can you manage it?”
  • “Find more space!”
  • “Please move slowly and carefully near the ___.”
  • “Please give each other lots of space so that no one feels like they need to push, and no one gets knocked over by accident.”
  • “Do you feel stable/balanced?”
  • “Do you need more space?”
  • “Make eye contact before you tackle someone. Make sure they know you are coming so that they can get their body ready.”
  • “Check in with each other. Make sure everyone is still having a good time.”
  • “Ask her if she’s ok.”
  • “Ask him if he’s still having fun.”
  • “Did you like that? Make sure you tell her if you didn’t like that.”
  • “If you need to run, meet me at the next trail marker!”
  • “Let’s check this cave/fort to make sure it’s safe to hide in.”

Bonus things to say:
• “What could you do to challenge yourself today”
“Thank you for waiting”