Toddler Talk

by admin

Saying ‘no’ to your little ones is not the end of the world – in fact, sometimes it is just what your child needs to hear. But if you are trying to get your child to listen to an explanation or to change their behaviour, then starting your response with a negative can mean you fail before you even begin.


Moving from negative to positive speech with our kids is a positive parenting tool that has great benefits. Young children often don’t take in or understand the negative words we use. They miss the ‘don’t or ‘stop’ at the beginning of the sentence and can’t figure out why we are telling them to do the thing they are already doing when you may appear angry about it! So how do you change your tone from positive to negative?


It is key that you start by thinking about what you are saying and whether you can you get your message across without using any negative language. At Hummingbird, we have found the best practice is to not tell them what they ‘can’t do’ but what they ‘can do’. Examples include “Please walk inside,” and “Use your gentle hands with your friends.”


It’s not just what you say, but also how you say it. You need to ‘set the tone’ and respond in a calm, polite, and positive manner. It may be tricky and sometimes it may slip away right when you need to remember it. Nevertheless, as long as you try to make the majority of your interactions with toddlers positive, especially when you are guiding their behaviour, you are on the right path!

Carissa Valentim-Du Toit is the centre manager at Hummingbird Pre-School DIFC. Having attained a Bachelor of Education Degree, she has taught in both nurseries and high schools in South Africa before moving to Dubai.