Are you open to new things? New opportunities, new techniques or new style… Or are you fearful of newness?
New is sometimes scary. You never tried it before. You never experienced it. There are unknown things in every “new”. There is also an opportunity to grow and a thing or two to learn with every “new”. The question is, are you ready to take the step to the “new”?
The way I was raised, like many of you, was different than the way we raise our children today. We are encouraged to think the “new way” of parenting and teaching. One of the biggest things we talk about is using positive language. I am sure you heard and or used at least two of the following statements:
- Don’t run in the hallway!
- No talking in the library
- Don’t hit your friend!
- Don’t be rude to your teacher/elderly/
- You can’t play outside when it gets dark
- Don’t waste your food!
- Don’t write/draw on the walls!
- You can’t speak without raising your hand and getting permission
Don’t, can’t, shouldn’t…The list is long. After hearing or saying these things have you seen or heard a child or in fact an adult doing exactly what you tell them not to do? Yes. We all have. The point is that human nature does not comprehend and does not respond well to negative statements. Instead, we use positive language and positive response to it is more likely to take place.
- Use your walking feet in the hallway
- Please be quiet in the library.
- Be gentle with your friend
- Be polite/Show respect to your teachers/elderly
- Please come inside before it gets dark
- Eat your food/Finish your food
- Keep walls clean/Write on paper/easel
- Please raise your hand before talking/ask for permission before talking
It may be easier to use negative instead of affirmative language however; the outcome we want to see is hard to attain. We need to be practice positive language and be conscious about it. The more we practice the easier it becomes. In addition, children hear us and they imitate what we say and what we do. It is easier to teach a child the positive way early on rather than trying to undo or reteach the best way. It really is about training the brain to think positively and use affirmative statements.
Negative statements are like a band-aid. You stop the undesirable act for the moment. You do not teach how to achieve the desirable outcome. Therefore, when you tell a child not to write on the walls his question may be “I want to write. Where can I write?” “What can I do when it gets dark? I am not sleepy and I still want to play”.
I love the book series “Teeth are not for biting” by Elizabeth Verdick and Marieka Heinlen. It talks about what you “can” do with your teeth.
The entire series is about positive guidance and developing social emotional skills. It is a great way to start using language that will teach children what to do and a simple model to follow for the teachers. Every child needs and deserves a happy learning environment where they are safe and they can learn enjoying what they do. They need to feel valued and capable. Adult tone and language choice makes or breaks a child. Children do not need power struggle. Especially when we really want them to learn something. They need to be assured, acknowledged and given choices. And they need to hear all of his with positive words and or statements. This allows them to remain open to what we say and what we want them to do. It is not always possible to do this but when positive language becomes a habit and takes place majority of the time it is a win win. As the old saying goes: You catch more bees with honey.