There are only 3 valid communications to a child.

  1. I love you.
  2. I love you and I love what you are doing.
  3. I love you and I don't love what you are doing and I know you can do better.

Instead of using words or phrases like "don't", "stop doing that", "that's bad" - use simple statements to illustrate how you would like the child to behave - such as : "we use our indoor voices in the house", "we share in our family", "You are a strong kicker, let's help your brother build his sand castle instead of hurting it.", "You are such a smart girl and you have such a beautiful heart, let's see if we can think of some kind words to say how you're feeling."

Avoid asking children "Why" about anything - even though you mean to understand them better it brings up the idea for the child that they need to have a good reason or that maybe they shouldn't think this, feel that, or do some other thing.

Say instead, "Tell me more about that." or "That is super interesting. Tell me more." or "What else can you tell me about that?" This will invite the child to share without calling anything into question.

Simple positive statements.
Thoughtful open ended questions.