Solving the Problem rather than Saying ‘Don’t!’

Fed up of saying ‘Don’t!’? Fed up of your child not taking any notice? A strategy more likely to engage cooperation and encourage joint problem solving is to give children information rather than a command.

So ‘Don’t keep opening and shutting that drawer – it will break!’ might become ‘I guess you’re enjoying the noise that makes? If you keep opening and shutting the drawer it may break! What can we do?’. Watch the videos and read the suggestions below to find out how to make this work for you without getting discouraged.

In the video (60 seconds):

An introduction to the art of offering information rather than giving commands.

In the video (5 minutes):

Giving information: appreciation and avoiding blaming (0:00)
Making it work: sharing power and habitual don’ts (1:26)
When it won’t work: imminent danger and when we’re triggered (3:20)

 A manageable thing to try

I love that Partnership Parenting offers the mix of quick tips to shift energy in parenting, and at the same time, a deeper approach to really building the relationship we want with our children. Giving information instead of saying ‘Don’t!’ is a great example of something you can use right away to positive effect.  Equally, there are no quick fixes, and this is a tool that needs time and practice to shift patterns of communication in your relationship with a child who is used to hearing commands.

To make it work without feeling discouraged, I suggest practising first in occasional situations where you aren’t feeling super frustrated. Persistent recurrent behaviours are often about much more than what appears to be going on.  If your child always hits cutlery on the table at a mealtime, or habitually refuses to put a coat on, he’s unlikely to respond to this strategy. And try offering information initially when you are in a state of calm groundedness (to the extent that we ever are as parents!!). If you try it when you are really frustrated or irritated, again, your child is unlikely to respond to what you are saying.

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