Realistic Serenity Behavioral Health

Offering individual, couples, family and child counseling to the Denver metro area


How to Get Your Kids to Listen to You by Using Positive Language

by Christa Grauert, MA, LPCC

“Stop”, “no”, “don’t” and “can’t” are words that children grow up hearing. Whether it is parents, caregivers, teachers, siblings, friends, or media, negative language is everywhere. Kids often hear what adults do not want them to do, instead of what adults want them to do. This is often the difference between negative language and positive language. Studies have shown that changing how adults talk to children have a positive effect on behavior.

Without notice, adults typically revert to negative language because it is quick and the first thing that pops into our head. However, the downside to negative language is it does not convey to kids an alternative to their behavior. It instead, leaves a child wondering what they should do. Reframing how adults say “no” to children in a more positive way will encourage a child to do something different. It may also increase their confidence as it will no longer be pointing out their failures. 

Changing one’s language is not an easy task! It is something one must be aware of but not be hard on oneself if it does not come effortlessly. I encourage you to try out some of these new reframes on the next page. Teachers have the same hand out to work on in the classroom as well. We hope that through working together, we can all strengthen the use of positive language in kids’ lives!



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