Don’t Do and Do Do
Don’t leave your dirty clothes on the floor! Don’t wipe your mouth with your sleeve! Don’t hit your sister! Sometimes it seems as if parents are providing their young children with a steady stream of admonitions, letting them know in no uncertain terms what they SHOULD NOT be doing.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Little ones need to be alerted to the fact that they are behaving improperly. The problem is that mothers and fathers often fail to follow up the admonitions with instructions. Adults often fail to realize that just as the children need to know what they should not be doing, they need to be informed as to what they SHOULD be doing.
So “don’t leave your dirty clothes on the floor!” needs to be followed with “put them in the hamper.” “Don’t wipe your mouth with your sleeve!” needs to be followed with “use your napkin.” And “don’t hit your sister!” needs to be followed with “use your words to express your anger.”
After all, it doesn’t really help the children if they are only told what is wrong and not told what is right. It may be difficult to keep in mind, but mothers and fathers should always strive to tack a “do do” onto every “don’t do” they utter.
Michael K. Meyerhoff, Ed.D. (a.k.a. “Dr. Mike”) is a member of the management team at Romp n’ Roll. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also held a position as a researcher with the Harvard Preschool Project. He may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.