Parenting Tips
Negative Language Harms Children – How Can We Improve Our Communication With Children?

Negative Language Harms Children – How Can We Improve Our Communication With Children?

Negative language has an influence on children; it causes them to be perplexed and disheartened as if they can’t accomplish anything properly. What is the solution? To achieve collaboration and maintain a pleasant connection, use positive words.

Negative language has been studied to see how it affects children, including how much confusion it causes, the internal resistance it causes, and how repeated negative language makes children feel discouraged as if they’re always doing something wrong or “being bad.”

Negative language is difficult for childrens to comprehend because they do not grasp what you want them to quit doing and what you want them to do instead.

It’s also depressing to constantly be told “no,” “stop,” or “don’t,” and it may make kids feel that there’s no purpose in trying to do the right thing.

What is the solution? Make positive statements.

In a compassionate manner, use positive words to teach children what you want them to quit doing and what you want them to do instead. Your expectations of their behaviour are quite clear.

When you give more attention to your replies, you provide clear direction to children without confusing them or making them feel awful about themselves.

When we use negative language, we are inviting power conflicts, back-talk, tantrums, and our children’s potential refusal to listen and ignore us.

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Confusing Language You Might Be Using

Certain phrases might be perplexing for children since they do not express what you want them to accomplish.

For instance, asking your child to “Stop” does not provide clear instructions other than allowing the child to figure out what they should and shouldn’t be doing on their own. Because little children, such as toddlers and preschoolers, lack this level of reasoning, asking them to stop is meaningless because they can understand what you want them to “stop” doing merely by hearing the word “stop.”

It all boils down to being clear about what we want our children to refrain from doing and what we want them to do instead.

This clears up any ambiguity or grey area in your childrens mind regarding what they’re doing incorrectly and what you want them to do instead.

Instead of saying “stop” or “no,” say anything like this:

  • We don’t toss sand, oh no. Instead, we’ll scoop it up using our shovel.
  • Our hands aren’t meant for hitting; we can put them in our pockets or clap them if we think they’re about to hit.
  • Let’s take a walk inside; if we run, we could get harmed.
  • Please bounce the ball outside rather than inside the home.

Without using negative language, you can remove the guesswork and offer your child a clear guidance of what they should be doing.

Positive Language You Can Use Instead

Using two pieces of paper and a black sharpie, write a list of terms and phrases that should be prohibited in your home.

On the list are the following negative words and phrases:

Knock It Off
Don’t do That
Stop It
Leave _ Alone
Cut It Out
Why Aren’t You Listening
Don’t Run
Don’t Hit
Stop Jumping on the Couch

Put alternatives to these bad words and positive phrases to use instead on the other sheet of paper. Tape the pieces of paper together on the kitchen cabinet or the fridge.

Positive Phrases You Can Use Instead

  • Stop running  –>  Please walk
  • No jumping on the couch  –> Please sit on your bottom on the couch
  • Don’t cut your hair  –> Scissors are for cutting paper
  • Don’t touch your sister  –> Do keep your hands to ourselves
  • Don’t take her toys  –> Can you please find something else to play with until she’s done?
  • Stop yelling  –> Please use your inside voice
  • No throwing balls in the house  –> You can take the ball outside to play if you’d like
  • Stop Whining  –> Please use your words so I can hear you
  • No hitting  –> Please use gentle hands
  • Don’t even think about running, I’m watching you!  –> I’m so glad to see you remembering to walk safely down the hall
  • Don’t climb on the table  –> Please keep your feet on the floor
  • Stop throwing sand  –> Would you like to fill this bucket with sand?


Give your children a clear and positive alternative while speaking with them about their behaviour and giving them instructions on what you’d like them to do instead, such as:

The game could be played outside.
Take the ball outdoors if possible.
You may play with each other softly. Finding a method to say “yes” can go a long way. Instead of responding, “No, you can’t have a cupcake right now,” adding, “After dinner, you can have a treat,” is much easier to swallow. The message is distinct, yet the result is the same.

Negative Language Harms Children - How Can We Improve Our Communication With Children? 2

What You Should Do Next:

1. Subscribe To My Parenting Newsletter

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2. Register For A Pretty Awesome FREE 60-Minute Class:

Register for a free class called GET KIDS TO LISTEN THE RIGHT WAY; an exclusive FREE class from nationally recognized parenting coach, Amy McCready.

3. Sign Up For A 7 Step Positive Parenting Course

Enroll now in the most in-depth parenting class. After discovering these common sense, easy-to-implement, research-based tools you can learn how to:
  • Easily get kids to listen – the FIRST time. No yelling or reminding…not even once!
  • Put an end to daily power struggles. Bedtime became a breeze, and all the dawdling, chore wars, sibling rivalry, and mealtime meltdowns disappeared.
  • Reduce backtalk by HALF! It’s simple once you know the secrets of these two ‘buckets.’
  • Say goodbye to punishments that DON’T work. There’s a 5-step formula that works WAYYY better than time-outs.
  • Feel amazing, confident, and empowered as a parent, every day. I NEVER go to bed feeling guilty anymore! (Okay, well maybe sometimes…’ mom guilt’ is still a thing.)
Got a threenager? You want this class. Got an actual tween or teen? Then what are you waiting for? Sign up for the webinar right NOW and watch the BEST, most life-changing parenting video ever.

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