When you’re in the grips of gritted teeth and pulling your own hair out, it can be mighty difficult to search for positive things to say instead of jumping to a nooooo, don’t do that! Here’s what to say to flip negative talk on its head!

When you speak negatively to your children, it sticks. Not only do they remember it, it can make us feel quite crap as a parent. With a little effort, we can turn it around.

Changing how you speak to your kids makes quite the impact. With ANY luck, they’ll soon stop ignoring you and steadily become more angelic by the day. Kind of. At the very least, they might start listening to you! AND you’ll feel better for being less yelly

Turning negatives into positives

  • Instead of “don’t ride that scooter inside”,say “I’d like it if you rode the scooter outside please”.
  • Instead of “no” say “that’s enough for now”.
  • Instead of “don’t use that voice with me!”,say “please use a calm voice so I can listen properly”.
  • Instead of saying “get down from there!”,say “when you hop down, we can do something together”.
  • Instead of saying “put them away, now!”,ask “shall we put these away together so they’re tidy and no one trips over them?”.
  • Instead of saying “for the love of crikey, stop hitting your brother”, say “we use gentle hands with each other so we can play nicely”.
  • Screaming “HURRY UP” can be turned around positively to “let’s see how quickly we can get ready to go out, I’ll race you!”.

There’s also a tonne of positive things you can say to your little cherubs on the daily. Try these on for size:

  • You make me smile
  • You are a great friend
  • I love to listen to your MANY stories
  • I believe in you
  • You are important
  • You’re allowed to make mistakes, that’s how we learn!
  • You’re very clever, I love how you think
  • You ask really great questions
  • Your ideas matter and they’re great!
  • You can always ask for help
  • Thanks for helping me
  • I enjoy hanging out with you
  • It’s fun to do things with you
  • You must be so proud of yourself
  • I’m proud of you
  • You were right!
  • I know you did your best.
  • You don’t have to be perfect to be awesome
  • Our family wouldn’t be the same without you (Don’t let them see the adoption papers!)
  • Thank you for being you
  • I love you

It doesn’t seem like much but these simple expressions of encouragement, interest and love really do make a big difference!

I made a conscious effort with my own kids to cease saying ‘no’ and ‘stop’ when we as a family were in the thick of toddlers and pre-schoolers. I can hand-on-my-heart say it DOES work. And now that my kids are teenagers, I’m thinking we could all probably do with a refresher course. #MUMLIFE

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At Mum Central we’re not backwards in forwards when it comes to dishing out the parenting advice, check out The Only Parenting Manual You’ll Ever Need which answers all the nitty-gritty questions that Google refuses to!


South Australian mum and self proclaimed foodie, Lexi can most days be found in the kitchen, apron tied firm and armed with a whisk or wooden spoon!

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