You Must Versus You Can

The words you choose can make the difference between getting cooperation from your children or getting resistance. When you start a request with “you must”, it invites kids to think “No I don’t!”

Read the statements below and see what difference you feel:

"You must brush your teeth." versus "You can brush your teeth and then we'll read a story."

"You must use the bathroom before we leave." versus "You can use at the bathroom before we leave."

"You must pick up your toys." versus "You can pick up your toys before dinner or after dinner."

"You must wash your hands before lunch." versus "You can wash your hands and then join us for lunch."

"You must study harder." versus "You can choose how hard to study."

In each of these situations, the children are ultimately in control of their behavior. When the statements begin with “You must”, it is an attempt to force the children to comply. However, just trying to force this compliance can send kids in the other direction just to prove their own sense of control.

photo credit: Stéfan via photopin cc


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