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Parents: Do not overuse the word NO

Instead of working on stuff they can't do, focus on stuff they can do

NO is likely a word that ranks in the top 5 when speaking to your children. It's important to use, but child experts say when used too often, it loses its meaning.

Senior Educator of Family Studies at MSU, Kendra Moyses says, focusing on positive things and not leading with no will help guide them to better decision making.

"Instead of working on stuff they can't do, focus on stuff they can do."

Moyses believes this helps provide kids opportunities to exercise self-control, which leads them to understand the difference between right and wrong. It also retains the value of what NO should stand for, according to child expert Holly Brophy-Herb.

"When no is used is select circumstances, then it's going to get the child's attention,” says Brophy-Herb. “If you are constantly using no in just an everyday setting, it's going to lost its meaning, it'll be just a negative tone for the child."

There are two ways to tackle this tough task, the first is replacing the motivation you want to stop, with another.

"If you meet that need for climbing in some other way,” says Brophy-Herb, “It's going to cut down on the climbing on the dishwasher or the table or things that might not be safe for the child."

The second way is understanding your child’s desire, and positively re-directing it.

"What you can do is validate that need: 'You are really wanting to climb, but right now I have to put the dishes away -- you can help me, how about you?' and then you give the child something else to do."

Young kids, especially toddlers focus on the active word when you communicate... so child experts say, flip-flop your NO with what you want to see happen.

"If your child is climbing on the dishwasher, then you can say, feet on the ground, rather than don't climb."

The results after gradually removing NO from your vocabulary and allowing kids to make their own choices on correct behavior will likely continue when you're not in the room says Moyses.

"What that does is, when the parent is not around it gets those wheels turning for the kids to go, 'oh, should I be making this choice?’ Because we are not always going to be there to direct their behavior."

Thus, saving the word NO for scary, dangerous, or emergency situations.


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