How to forbid to a child: what he or she can say and what he or she can’t say

Experts in child development think that the secret of mutual understanding with the child is the correct phrasing.

Psychologists say that requests which begin with the preposition “not” or the words “you can’t” are hardly  perceived by the children. A small child has to deal with double processing of information.

When you say the phrase “you can’t do”, the child also waits that the phrase about what he or she can do will be the next that’s why all the prohibitions must be stated in a positive way.

Don’t focus the attention on prohibitions, talk about the things you allow your child to do.


We have collected for you the top 12 phrases which mothers most often have to use (in the correct and incorrect interpretations).


Talk quietly, please/don't shout

The child can’t hear himself or herself from aside and he or she doesn’t know that he or she is talking too loudly.

Try to formulate a request or refusal in a positive way.

For example, if your child is talking very loudly in the bus, you should clearly explain to him or her he or she must talk quietly in the transport  because he or she can bother another people.


This thing is for another person/Don't touch

As a rule, this phrase is being said in order to protect personal belongings (jewelry, cosmetics) or to protect the child from the negative effects of the object (hot kettle, socket).

In the first case, the child will not understand why mom can take a pencil and he or she can’t do this. In the second case, he or she won’t listen because a mug is one object for him or her, no matter  whether it’s cold or hot.


You can't run at home/Don't run

This phrase will confuse the child because he or she can see a lot of other children running in the street and your child doesn’t know that the parents don’t allow them to run at home. When you calmly explain it to him or her, he or she will understand you.


Tell the truth to mom/don't lie

The phrase “don’t lie” sounds a little bit threatening and it’s absolutely unclear that’s why the child will wait for the phrase to be continued. And if it’s not being continued, he or she will not understand what will happen if he or she lies.


Being neat is beautiful. You're beautiful, aren't you?/Don't get dirty

Small children are mostly slatterns. They like to be smeared with chocolate, to overturn a glass of milk, to color themselves with the markers.

The reason lies in curiosity. To scold for this is groundless and dangerous. Conditioned reflex which can be formed later will significantly complicate the process of growing up.

Noticing that your child likes to be a slattern, teach him or her that being neat is good. Eventually your child will get used to this idea.


Only small children leave their toys everywhere and you are big/don't leave your toys everywhere

The children want to copy adults and nobody scolds adults, everything is explained to them calmly.


You're smart, you can't do that/don't be stupid

The main thing is to praise which will alternate with the teachings. Children don’t perceive monotonous edifying speech. That’s why, it makes sense to change the parting words with encouragements.

If you see that your  daughter or son is happily splashing in a puddle of, use a steady voice to tell about the consequences of such a behavior. When the child stops doing this, express your approval.


If you eat a lot of sweets, it will run out/don't eat too many sweets

The child doesn’t understand that it is harmful to eat a lot of sweets as well as it’s harmful to eat a lot of salt but nobody will eat the salt.

Sweets – it’s delicious that;s why it’s hard to stop eating them but if  your child knows that the reserves of sweets are limited, he or she will want to extend the pleasure.


You could watch a cartoon now/don't argue

It’s useless to argue with an adult who doesn’t understand you just as well it’s useless to argue with a child.

It’s better to specify how much time he or she loses on disputes instead of doing what he or she was asked to do and then she or he could watch a cartoon!


Let's see what we can do/don't cry

When the child does something wrong and he or she is upset, show your concern.

Pay attention to her or his failures. After all, a child often exaggerates the things which are the trifles for an adult. Respect the feelings of the child and he or she will be grateful.


Think about what would happen if you take your dirty hands in the mouth/ you can't take your dirty hands in the mouth

You mustn’t shout and, even worse, beat the child on his or her hands. How can he or she know that taking dirty things in his or her mouth is harmful?

It’s better to ask him or her a question and get his or her attention and then calmly explain what could happen.



Many people are concerned about the question “how to explain to a child that he or she is wrong?»

There are many techniques and tips that tell you what you can and can’t do in such situations. First of all, it’s recommended to the parents to take a responsible approach to what they say to their children.

You must remember that the period of the psyche formation of a child is the defining stage of growing up.

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