Take a moment while you are reading this and imagine this scenario: You are trying to tell your child to NOT do something. They maybe pause but then they do that thing that you just told them not to do. Or picture that you are with your child, you tell them no then they fall to the ground in a temper tantrum.
Everyone experiences difficulty with behavior with children, teens, and even adults. A tool you can add to your tool box next time your loved one is having a difficult day is “you can” language.
“You can” language teaches the individual what they could do in a circumstance. It provides options which they may not have seen before prior to the suggestion. Here is how it works: by providing options for the child it gives the child a clear set of expectations. When we tell a child what we do not want them to do it only tells them what they can’t do which limits their options. You can input choices here too to provide some autonomy for that individual which can help to improve behavior as well.
Just remember those negating words “no”, “not”, and “don’t” are not fully understood until about three. Even still these abstract concepts may be difficult for your loved one to understand beyond 3 years, so using “you can” language is a great way to get around that.
Here are some examples of “you can” languages:
- Individual is yelling in the car: You can use a whisper voice or a talking voice
- Individual begins running away: You can walk or skip
- Individual goes to pinch: I see you’re frustrated. You can tell me “I’m mad” or “I need a break”