One of the quickest ways to redirect a child’s behavior is to make sure that you label the action you want the child to change, not the child as a person.
We can do this by monitoring our language. Instead of using the word *you* which immediately makes a child defensive (and who wouldn’t be, as they are being labeled as a person), we can shift to the use of *that* or *this.*
Here are a few examples.
“You are such a whiner.” Instead: That’s whining. As soon as it stops, I will listen.”
“Don’t be a pest.” Instead: “This is called pestering, and it will not get you what you want.”
“You are being rude and disrespectful. Instead: “That sounded rude and disrespectful. I don’t allow people to speak to me that way. I’ll wait to continue this conversation for when we are both calmer.”
“You are being a bad boy (girl, etc.)” Instead: This choice that you are making right now is unacceptable. If it doesn’t change to an acceptable choice, there will be a consequence.”
This particular coaching tip is as simple as it sounds. Describe the action of the behavior, not the child. Every child is capable of making good choices or not-so-good choices. When we label the child instead of the choice, we are not only sending a powerful negative message to a child about who they are as a person, we are not reaching the goal of helping a child recognize and change their choice.