Using the Magic Word when Parenting

Posted by in No-Cry Discipline

Day in and day out, parents are teaching their children to use their manners; but all too often, parents forget to use those same manners themselves. Parents make the mistake of modeling the exact opposite of what they’ve been teaching, which makes their parenting lessons much less effective. Or they take the opposite approach and are not direct enough.

In some situations, parents try to avoid sounding demanding and end up framing their directions as suggestions. When this happens, it sounds like you are giving the child the option of whether or not they would like to follow the direction. When the request sounds optional, the result is usually an angry parent and a frustrated child.

“I wish you would… get ready for bed now.”

“Don’t you think it’s time to… start your homework?”

“It would be nice if… you cleaned up this mess.”

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In other situations, parents assume that their child is intentionally disobeying rules that they are well aware of. In these instances, correcting the child can often come out as very impolite – or downright mean.

“Don’t interrupt us.”

“Get your shoes off the chair.”

“Stop pulling on the dog!”


What can parents do instead? Be clear and respectful. There is no need for hints or for demands. Make a clear, specific, polite request; and the child will be better able to understand and follow that direction.

Parents always tell their children to use the magic word, and now it is time to adopt it into your parenting lingo as well … just say please …

“Please wait a moment, we’re talking.”

“Please take your shoes off when you put your feet up on your chair.”

“Please clean up your mess.”

“Please get started on your homework now.”

“Please pet the dog gently.”

And when your child completes the task at hand? It’s time to continue to model respectful and polite behavior with a simple phrase – Thank you!

These tips are from The No-Cry Discipline Solution: Gentle Ways to Encourage Good Behavior without Whining, Tantrums and Tears

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