Why don’t solve nothing

Children can more easily understand words they can picture in their head (visualize).

The day I tried to remove the word “not” when I talked to the kids I had another aha experience.

Have you ever dared to listen to yourself when you’re talking and reflected of how many times you use the word no? How many times do you tell your kid what not to do instead of what you want them to do?

It all started when my mom said she thought it was so weird when she asked someone “How did it taste?” She noticed people often answered “Not bad” which then meant it tasted good.

Well, say it then! Why is it so hard for us to say what we mean?

The clearer the language, the easier it is for the children to understand you.

You can make life easier for yourself as a parent by telling the children what you want done instead of what you don’t want. A clear example is how often we use the word “not”.

Give yourself a chance to think about your own language. Do you often use the word not in your sentences?

  • Don’t run!
  • Don’t lick the knife?
  • Don’t go in with your shoes on?
  • Don’t fight!
  • Don’t yell!

I see myself using or at least have used the word quite often. Did it become easier for my guys to understand what I wanted? Forget it!


Now think about what you just said. How do you feel inside? Do you feel better? Does the child stop. Are you still a little annoyed? Perhaps you just lightly raised your voice? That’s how it was for me. The “NOT” negative sucks out loads of energy and creates a smokescreen to see and communicate what is wrong.

However, when I tried to actually say what I wanted of them it went much better.
“Talk a little quieter, please … “
My guys got a clear picture of what I wanted and it was easier for them to fulfill my wish. That result was good, but I also felt better because my brain focused on what makes me happy and satisfied and positive energy was communicated to the children.
To further make myself and the children happier I added a little extra … ..please

Willing to try? Just be prepared for one thing. It takes time to find the words to say what you want instead of saying what you don’t want. You may find that you have difficulty to get the words out and you may think they noticed your hesitation. Believe me, I’ve hesitated, sometimes with a breath and my children stood and waited for me to find the right words, I’ve learned those extra moments of investment pay off in a softer tone in our home and a happier feeling inside.

3 thoughts on “Why don’t solve nothing

  1. Donnie Kanter Winokur says:

    Johan – thanks for this important reminder. I may have first really considered this “don’t do” thing after reading one of Jodee’s earlier books. Changing the underlying spirit of a negative response to a positive one is a powerful investment, both for the parent and the child. And it makes sense. But, I do forget to rearrange my thinking and my words in the heat of the moment. I will absolutely try harder. I also think adults would do better in their relationships with one another if we were mindful of your suggestions. I appreciate your insight.

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