Say this, Not that: A Parent’s Guide


Say This, Not That: A Parent's Guide.

Are you tired of being ignored? Feeling frustrated that your kids respond to you with grunts and “I don’t know?”

Sometimes, the way we phrase things can make a big difference.  It’s not always easy to remember what to say or how to say it, especially when your child is in the middle of a meltdown.

So, here’s a quick reference guide for parents.

“Say this, Not that”

Instead of: “How was school?”

Try:What was the best part of your day?”

Instead of: “What do you want for a snack?”

Try: “Do you want a cheese stick or an apple for your snack?”

Instead of: “Get over here!”

Try: “Hold on to the cart, please.”

Instead of: “Clean up this mess!”

Try: “Snack will be served when the playroom is clean.”

Instead of:Calm down!”

Try: “When you are ready, let’s take a deep breath.”

Instead of: “Why are you crying?”

Try: “You are feeling really sad right now.”

Instead of:Why did you do that?”

Try: “You really wanted that blue truck.”

Instead of: “What were you thinking?”

Try: “When did things get off track?”

Instead of:Good job

Try: “That took a lot of patience!”

Instead of: “I love you all equally.”

Try: “Your sense of humor really brings joy to our family.”

Instead of: “Don’t talk to me like that!”

Try: “Use a calm voice when you are talking to me please.”

Instead of:Be careful!”

Try: “Use two hands when you hold the pitcher.”

Instead of: “Do you want a time-out?”

Try: “Let’s find something else for you to do.”

Instead of: “That’s it! Both of you to your rooms!”

Try: “I know you and your sister can find a solution”

Instead of: “What’s wrong?”

Try: “It looks like you have something on your mind, want to talk about it?”

Instead of: “You’re grounded for a year!”

Try: “I am too frustrated to talk about the consequence right now.”

Instead of: “Fine, you can have that new toy, just stop your whining!”

Try: “My answer is no.”

Instead of: “I am so proud of you.”

Try: “You must be proud of your hard work on this project”

Instead of: “What do you have for homework tonight?’

Try: “What is your plan for finishing your homework tonight?”

Say this, Not That, a parent's guide. Examples of common parenting phrases, rewritten using positive language!

Let’s get started…

This week, pick a phrase that you would like to say differently. Write it on a post-it and put it in a visible place in your home. Give it a try for a few days.  You may not do it perfectly, you may go back to old habits.  That’s ok. Changing the way you communicate can be hard, but the rewards may have a huge impact on your family and your children.

What would you add? What statements or phrases would you like to remove from your home?

Nicole Schwarz (couch 3)

Welcome! I'm Nicole Schwarz.

I'm a Parent Coach, Licensed Therapist and Author of It Starts with You. I help stressed, overwhelmed, confused parents find calm, confidence and connection with their kids. No one is expecting perfection here. But, if you’re willing to examine your parenting, find encouragement, or try something new, this is the place for you.

Comments have been turned off to retain the privacy of all families. If you have a question or comment on the topic, you're always welcome to contact me.