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7 Phrases that Stop Bad Behavior in its Tracks

7 Phrases that Stop Bad Behavior in its Tracks

Using these mantras often can turn some of the most difficult parenting moments around.


Add these seven phrases to your parenting arsenal. These mantras can help you fend off bad behavior and turn some of the most difficult parenting moments around. Use them often.

1. “You get what you get and you don't get upset!”

I learned this from my son’s preschool teacher. It’s best if you pre-empt your activity with this phrase instead of using after your child is upset (it’s harder for them to calm down once they are disappointed.) Try this with children before snack time, dinner time and when picking colored markers from your arts and crafts stash.

2. “I see how angry/upset you are. The answer is still no.”

Children can endlessly whine and beg for the stuff that you won’t let them have. When they’re asking for the umpteenth time for that extra piece of candy, more time at the zoo, the designer sneakers that you can’t afford, empathize with them (its hard not to get the stuff we want) but be firm with your limits.

3. “ You know how to be respectful.”

When kids are disrespectful things can go downhill fast. Before getting bogged down in power struggle, this phrase can help you keep your cool, teach kids to mind their manners and garner respect (because you haven’t responded with anger). This is a quick, positive way to let children know that they’ve crossed the line but you believe that they can correct themselves.

4. “We are having a rough time! Let’s start again…”

Sometimes parents and kids start the day off on the wrong foot. Burnt breakfast, lost shoes, the dog eating your child’s homework can waylay the best of intentions. When tensions are high, this is a great phrase to help bring it down a few notches. We can set rewind and begin anew.

5. “I have seen you be kind…”

When children are not being kind to their siblings or friends, try appealing to the better side of their nature. This phrase is a gentle reminder that they can be kind, you have seen them be kind and you have faith that they can be kind in this situation as well.

6. “This is disappointing. We can work this out…”

This phrase works well when children are bent out of shape because of a cancelled play date, an unexpected doctor visit, a broken computer, or forced change in plans. This lets children know that we feel their pain and helps refocus them so that they can figure out what they can do to make themselves feel better and what we can do to move that a long.

7. “We don't blame, we focus on solutions…”

This is my favorite phrase to use in my family. It stops everyone from pointing fingers and teaches kids to move towards finding a solution – grabbing a rag to clean the milk, helping your child figure out ways to remember to do his chores and the best way to let your child know (in a way that they can hear) that dinner is ready.

February 4, 2017

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Visitor Comments: 1

(1) Jen, February 7, 2017 8:51 PM

Great advice - but...

For #1 - It's better to say "you get what you get and it's OK to be upset." Having studied the "How to Talk..." methodology extensively and it's amazing philosophy of emotional intelligence it's important to validate kids' experience. Even if they get upset.

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