Tuesday, October 19, 2010


 If you are old enough you may recognize this as a line from an old  Johnny Mercer song. And when you are working with children nothing could be more true. As the song says, Accentuate the positive. Eliminate the negative. Latch on to the affirmative and don't mess with Mr. Inbetween.”

 Eliminate as many negative words from your vocabulary as possible. These are words like no, don't, can't, won't and not. You may be thinking, 'How am I supposed to do that when my child is constantly doing something he's NOT supposed to do?' You can do it. You just have to wrap your brain around the concept.

 How do you feel at the end of a full day of, "Stop! No! Don't do that. You can't touch that. etc" We've had our fair share of those days. And by the time we went to bed we felt pretty crappy. You feel bad about yourself. You question your parenting skills. Then the guilt sets in. So what do you do?  Let your kids do anything they want?

 Absolutely not. You get up fresh the next morning and tell yourself that you are only going to tell your child what you want him to do. You are NOT going to tell him what you don't want him to do. So what if he's already doing something he's not supposed to do? Then what? It still works. Instead of telling him not to do what he's currently doing tell him what he CAN do instead. Here are some examples:

NEGATIVE                                                                 POSITIVE
1.Don't sit on the table.                                                 1. You can sit on this chair.
2.Don't write on the wall.                                               2. You can write on paper.
3.Don't run.                                                                     3. Please walk to the car.  

4. No screaming!                                                           4. Please tell me what                                   
                                                                                              you need.
Your child may only hear and process part of your message. So if you say, "Don't write on the wall" and all he hears is, "Write on the wall" guess what he's going to do?  But if you say, "You can write on paper" with a little luck he will choose to write on paper. Just be sure to show him which paper he is allowed to use or he may write on any old paper he finds lying around the house like your check book or the letters that your great grandfather wrote to your great grandmother during WWII.

At the end of the day you and your child will both have a better outlook on life if you have accentuated the positive and eliminated the negative. And please don't mess with Mr. In-Between. He is much too vague for your very literal child to understand. Simple and clear directions work best.

 If your child likes music you may want to listen to the song with him at end of the day. It's guaranteed to put a smile on your face and remind you to keep things in the proper perspective.

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