The Motherhood Secret: Focus on What You DO Want

23 Jun

Teaching yourself to use positive language (using DO vs. DON'T) may be as important as teaching your children how to swim. At the very least, both skills will make your job easier.

At a recent trip to the pool, I observed a frustrated mother trying to discipline her young son. He was joyfully playing, splashing and squirting water out of his mouth. Over and over his mother demanded, “Don’t put that water in your  mouth!” Each time the order got louder until she decided he needed a “time out.” Her son endured his time out, jumped back in and immediately filled his mouth with water. By this time, all the children in the baby pool were sampling the water because “water in your mouth” was still echoing through all of our heads. I refrained from offering a brief  explanation on the law of attraction, but did coax my child into finding another place to put the water by giving her a bucket and some toys to play with.

What commands sound more effective? “Don’t run!” or “Walk slowly!” How about “No hitting!” vs. “Touch gently.” I’m guilty of uttering, “Don’t make a mess!” when I should be saying, “Please put all your toys away when you are done playing.” My point is, if you focus on the behavior you DON’T want, you will get more of it. It’s like those little brains automatically filter out the words “no” and “not” from everything they hear. Years ago, a preschool teacher recommended a book that more fully explains this phenomenon titled Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline by Becky A. Bailey, Ph.D. The book drags on in some chapters, but the basic information is very useful. If you can recommend other books on conscious parenting, please post them in the comments.

MOM DARE: Try to catch yourself every time you speak a negative sentence and turn it around to a positive. If you hear yourself using the words “don’t” or “no,” stop yourself and express what you DO want. This is one of the more magical tricks of motherhood/life, because when a child/spouse/coworker hears fewer “no’s” they are less likely to use the word in response to you.

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4 responses to “The Motherhood Secret: Focus on What You DO Want

  1. lorilowe

    July 6, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    I remember reading that book and found it very helpful when my kids were toddlers. We all need reminding! Another book along the same lines is How to Talk so Your Kids Will Listen, by H. Norman Wright (no relation to you, I assume!). He explains positive speech well. Another good tip in his book is to make your request or point by using as FEW words as possible. Ex.”Light off” not “We need to conserve energy in this house, so please remember to turn the lights out as you exit!”

    • momswithgrace

      July 6, 2010 at 7:37 pm

      I’ll check that book out. I’m pretty sure you were the one who recommended the other book! Even with three children, I still welcome suggestions and will read books or articles again to reinforce my strategies! And sometimes recognizing unsuccessful techniques used by other parents helps us figure out better ones to use for our own children. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Average Girl

    July 13, 2010 at 9:38 pm

    Just came across your blog — this post has such a great message. It’s not always easy to follow, but I like the theory behind it.

    • momswithgrace

      July 13, 2010 at 9:52 pm

      Thanks for reading and commenting. Honestly, this blog started as a way for me to improve my own parenting techniques and work through any negative issues that come up in my own life. Each post is just another reminder for myself. Hope they help.


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