Emotional & Speech Support News

Stating Expectations Postively

Experts agree that directions and behavior expectations should be stated using positive

language. In other words, instruct children to do what you would like them to do; avoid

asking them to “stop” a negative behavior. This recommendation is especially important

for children with auditory processing or other language difficulties. Stating what you

would like in clear, concise phrases or sentences will assist children in comprehension

of the request. Avoid using “no,” “don’t” and “stop” in your directions – these words are

overused and promote negativity. Using these words also increases the complexity of

language and can detract from the desired outcome of your given direction.

Instead of Saying...

  1. No running!
  2. Stop tapping your desk!
  3. No, you can’t have it.
  4. No yelling!
  5. Don’t touch that!
  6. Do not ignore me.
  7. No hitting!
  8. You may not call out the answers.
  9. Do not make a mess.
  10. Do not leave your toys on the floor.

Try Saying...

  1. Use your walking feet.

  2. Calm hands, please.

  3. It’s time for ______ now.

  4. Quiet voice, please.

  5. Hands to yourself.

  6. Listen to me.

  7. Gentle hands.

  8. Raise your hand.

  9. Please be neat.

  10. Put toys away when you are finished.