Have you ever noticed that kids tend to respond better to positive directions rather than negative ones? This means that telling them what they should do is often more effective than telling them what they shouldn’t do. But why is this the case? Well, a study conducted by researchers at Stanford University looked into this and found some fascinating results.

This study by Nordmeyer and Frank in 2013 investigated how children processed negative statements. They showed a group of 2 to 4-year-olds a picture of two boys, one holding apples and the other holding nothing, and asked them to “look at the boy with no apples.” The researchers used eye-tracking technology to see where the kids looked, and the results were surprising.

The children’s eyes initially focused on the boy with the apples, and only later did they shift their gaze to the boy without them. This suggests that negative statements like “look at the boy with no apples” require more cognitive effort for young children. They must first process what they shouldn’t do (look at the boy with apples) before they can understand what they should do (look at the boy without apples).

So, to guide children’s behaviour effectively, it’s best to use positive statements that provide clear direction. For example, instead of saying, “don’t interrupt,” we can say, “please wait for your turn to speak.” It’s a small change, but it can make a big difference in helping kids understand what we expect from them.

Parenting can be challenging, but with the right approach, we can guide our children towards positive behaviour and a brighter future. By focusing on what our children can do rather than what they can’t, we can create an environment that fosters confidence, cooperation, and positive growth. Let’s be patient with ourselves and our children as we navigate this journey together. With a little positivity and determination, we can help our children become the best versions of themselves.