Why you shouldn’t tell your children “No! Don’t do that!”

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(For clarification BEFORE you read! lol I’m NOT a perfect parent. Nor am I trying to show/prove that I am. This is just one thing, in one area that I’ve noticed works on most kids. Not just mine. 😀 )

I was watching a movie the other day. There was a Dad and some kids who were up really high and trying to be careful to not fall. The Dad says “Don’t look down”. So, what is the first thing the child does? Looks down.

I worked at a daycare for 3 years and I now have 3 kids. Two on the spectrum (severe/non-verbal) and one a month old (so we don’t know where he lies as far as being ASD or NT). One of the things that the daycare made us do with the kids (that I still enforce with my family)… is to not say “no”. Don’t get me wrong. There are times No is needed, but MOST of the time… you don’t need to say no to your child.

Example: Tyler LOVES to climb on everything. Absolutely everything and anything. Of course some of his favorites are the areas I don’t want him climbing on. Of course my first instinct is to say “NO! Don’t climb on that!”. More than likely, because that’s what I was taught. It takes a lot of effort to change a habit. So it won’t happen overnight. But you better believe your child’s attitude can. Instead, I tell him “All done. Get down, feet on the floor” then I take him by his hand and show him where he CAN play. I don’t just throw him where he needs to be and leave. I go with him and play there too. That way he understands that where and what he’s playing is a place I will play with him and give him attention.

If you tell a kid – “NO! Don’t jump on the couch”. That tells them they shouldn’t jump on the couch, but you’re not replacing that with something they can do. So they look around… and nothing looks like as much fun as jumping on that couch. So, guess what they do? Then you get mad, you make them go to their room. You’re a “horrible mom/dad” and they “hate you”… all because they wanted to have fun and jump on the couch. Nothing life threatening… but now everyone is pissed off.

Depending on how old they are and level of understanding… if you would have said:

(Older or more understanding): I don’t like it when you jump on the couch. Why don’t you…. Then go and inforce what you asked them to do. Go push them on the swings for a bit before you say you have to go back inside to keep cleaning… or whatever.
Either way… You’ll get a better response.

With younger children (less understanding – no words): *angry/sad face* “All done! Feet on the floor” then take them by the hand (or if this is new to them and they don’t understand – pick them up) and take them to a new activity. If they don’t seem interested – tickle the crap out of them. lol Usually that helps my kids forget what they were even doing that you didn’t like. But DON’T just get up and walk away as soon as you put them at a new activity. More than likely their first instinct will be to get right back up and jump on the couch.

Often there are two reasons why kids do things they shouldn’t.
1: Because they didn’t know they shouldn’t do it (and with ASD kids – it takes a lot of repetition for it to sink in. I read somewhere (it was 3 years ago – sorry I don’t have a citation), that it takes kids on the spectrum some 30+ times for a new skill, lesson or enjoyment over a new food to sink in)…)
2: Because they want attention. They know that if they get up on this counter, YOU come over and give them attention. Some people don’t think kids really do that. That they’re just “bad kids”. Nope. They are starving for affection and interest. When they don’t get what they need over and over… THAT becomes habit and they just continue to do “bad things”.

There are NO bad kids… They just aren’t being heard the way they are trying to be.
Kids need attention. I know that we are ALL busy. There is just NOT enough time in the day for the things that matter to us most. Our family. But we REALLY need to take time out of our day to show those who mean the most to us, that we care about them. Otherwise they’re going to get that attention one way or another. (Doing bad things, being around bad people, etc)

So, try this for a day. Don’t say no. How many times do you really say no in a day? Tell them WHAT TO DO instead of what not to do. If you’re up for the challenge, come back and tell me how many times you accidently said no and how many times you caught yourself before you said it.

You would be so surprised how well your kids will listen to you if you show them what TO DO instead of tell them what NOT to do. 🙂

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