next time, do this
“Don’t hit your brother. Don’t leave your stuff on the floor. Don’t spill it. Don’t talk to me that way. . . ”
Sound familiar? How’s that workin’ for you?
For me, the “don’t” pattern doesn’t work so well. Let me demonstrate why. Right now, do not look at the adorable picture at the top of this page. Don’t imagine snuggling with that warm fuzzy puppy and smelling his sweet puppy breath.
What are you doing? I said don’t do it! I’m willing to bet you’re taking a sneak peek at that picture. I put it right there in front of you. I even tempted you by telling you all about it.
When we say to our children, “Don’t run,” we are planting a picture of the opposite thing we want them to do. We often reinforce it with lectures and more details about that undesireable behavior. So what does a child automatically start thinking about? Running, of course! We haven’t even mentioned what we want to see.
The simple antidote? Next time.
“Next time, please walk. Next time, use your words. Next time, pick up your coat and put it on the hooks. Next time, hold it carefully. Next time, speak to me in a respectful tone. . . “
“Next time. . . “ plants a positive picture of the behavior we want. It channels our efforts and energy in the right direction. The phrase teaches, rather than criticizes. I’d rather be a teacher.
Will it guarantee they’ll do it for you next time? Perhaps not. Still , I like myself better when I say “next time.” It gives me a moment to choose who I want to be.
Switching from “don’t” to “next time. . .” works for me. What works for you?