Negative Vs Positive Language

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Negative Vs Positive Language

Research has shown that ‘don’t,’ ‘stop,’ and other forms of negative language do more harm than good. What is the reason?

Discipline worded negatively is much harder to understand and children cannot process negative language easily.

Let me explain this further:

  • ‘Stop’ on its own tells a child nothing. Then children have to figure out what they shouldn’t be doing and what they should be doing.
  • Does adding what they should stop doing to the word stop resolve the problem? NO. Because we still haven’t told the child what they should be doing. This causes more harm than help. WHY?
  1. A young child has to understand and figure out what isn’t wanted of them and what to do instead.
  2. Negative language is demotivating, discouraging, and frustrating to children.
  3. When they constantly hear what they are doing wrong, it can feel futile to try to do right.
  4. When you keep hearing the negative language, you are more likely to ignore the instructions and play a deaf ear to them.


  • Positive language tells them what to do instead and eliminates confusion.
  • It reinforces good behaviour and is clear.
  • It helps the child understand that parents put more thought into their discipline.


  • Don’t run – Only walking, please.
  • Stop touching your sister – Hands to yourself, please.
  • Don’t throw toys – Please keep your toys on the ground/in the bin
  • Leave him alone – Come over here and play.
  • Don’t take out all your toys – Let’s clean up what you were playing with before taking anything else out.
  • Don’t hit – Only gentle touches, please.
  • Stop yelling – Quiet voice, please.
  • Calm down – Take a deep breath.
  • You’re not listening – Look at my eyes. I need good listening.
  • Stop picking your nose – Go get a tissue, please.

Can you think of some more ??

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