Mom hand up • Stop itThis morning we had to drop off our car to be fixed. I followed my husband over to the dealership and accidentally pulled into the exit side of the parking lot. I recognized my mistake immediately. Before I could stop and put the car in reverse, a technician walked up making hands gestures telling me to pull out. No problem, my bad.

I pulled into the entrance side of the lot, and was slowly coming to a stop beside the parked cars so other cars could pull past me, and a different technician ran up and said, “You can’t stay here!” I replied, “I’m here to pick up my husband, he’ll be one minute.” He waved me on, so I proceeded to move ahead.

Three more times this happened, and each time I was told, “you can’t do this” and “you can’t do that.” This was all happening within earshot of the last technician who gave me instructions, and yet, no one stepped forward to tell me what I should be doing instead.

Then it hit me. This must be how a child feels when a parent continually admonishes them for doing something wrong, neglecting to tell them what they should be doing instead.

When a child is told, “don’t do that” or “stop it” or “how many times have I told you not to do that” they must feel confused, frustrated and ready to have an outburst, I know I was.

Even though they are children, they’re smart enough to know that in order to stop doing something, they need to be told what or how to do something else.

So the next time you want your child’s behavior to stop, change or shift, try skipping the admonishments and simply tell them what they should be doing or what you want them to do instead. Life may get more peaceful as a result.