What two words can you change to get your kids to listen?

So many of us are frustrated when our kids don't listen. And usually it leads to even more negative behaviors because we know they can hear us!

But communication breakdowns usually occur because of the words we use.

That's why it’s so important to focus on what words you use when you’re giving kids directions.

Changing these TWO words can make a big difference!

"Can" and "Okay"

Alright, so you may already notice these are questions right? But did you know that if you listen to parents chasing their kid around a park trying to leave, or at a birthday party where there is a lot of excitement, you’ll hear them asking questions like,

"We don’t do that okay?"


"Can you stop doing that?"

And that’s right! There are question marks at the end of those! Try to say them aloud. They are giving kids a choice right?

But maybe you don’t want them to have a choice.

So that’s why it’s important to remove the word okay or can when you’re giving directions.

Trust me. After 25 years of working in the field of early childhood including more than 10 years of coaching teachers it happens everywhere!

Especially novice teachers or parents that are trying to be nice. They use these words because of nerves, or trying to build in choice and connection with the kids, but it in fact creates the opposite effect.

Rather, if you want to create a choice for a child then give them a choice of “how” they follow directions rather than "when".

For example, check out these sentence ideas.

"It’s time to clean up. Would you like to start with the cars or trucks?"

"It’s time to wash your hands. Would you like to hop or march to the bathroom?"

For more ideas on how to get kids to transition from one activity to another such as clean up time, or lunch time check out this free download list of ideas.

Also did you know that clear expectations like removing the words ‘can’ and ‘okay’ is one of 3 keys to get the behavior you love.

Check out this free tip sheet for more useful tips and ideas to get your kids to listen and stay engaged in fun learning activities.