Flipping Negative Statements

flipping negative statements

It is very natural to react and give reprimands when your child does something wrong. But when you’re doing it several times a day, it’s hard NOT to get flustered and feel like you’re  being a bad parent who yells at your child all the time. (Repeat after me, “I am not a bad parent.”)

Behavior analysts will tell you to ignore and redirect, but this is easier said than done. So, in the meantime what do you say instead?

This was hard for me when I was introduced to ABA as a nanny in college. I mean, what was I supposed to say when the child was taking out a jug of milk from the refrigerator and dropped it? I was told not to say “no” or provide reprimands, and I was hard on myself when I simply reacted and said “No, no, no. Don’t drop that!” Once I was able to think about my words when I wasn’t in the moment, however, I came up with phrases I could have said:

“Let me help you. It’s heavy.”

“Hold on tightly!”

“Use 2 hands”

I know thinking of phrases after the fact isn’t going to undo what was already said, but we’re human. We learn from our actions, and can use that to prepare for future problems.  In the example above, I was able to come up with some practice using alternative words to say.

I also want to note that saying “no” is not wrong or bad. Some behavior analysts will say “no” to kids, to teach the meaning of “no” which is also appropriate. Drawing from my experience, I was taught to flip my negative statements and provide positive feedback.

My homework for you is to jot down negative statements you’d like to rephrase and try to come up with two positive statements you can try in the future.  If you have trouble coming up with something, place a comment below and I will personally respond!