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"Stop it!" Why Children's Negative Behaviors Might Not Be So Bad

By Dr. Sarah Haas *

It can be so frustrating when your child doesn't do what you've asked them to do. Worse yet--when they do the opposite of what you've asked them to do! These situations can feel more and more frustrating when they occur again and again over time.

"How many times do I need to tell you to stop touching your sister?"

"We LITERALLY just talked about yelling YESTERDAY!"

"Can't you just STOP being disrespectful???"

Phrases like these can fly out of our mouths without much thought behind it, when we are frustrated. However, these comments can make children feel worse about themselves, decrease their self-esteem, or can lead to an increase in the behaviors you are getting frustrated with.

So ... is the solution to just not get frustrated? Well...that feels rather unlikely. What other options do we have?

Enter the topic of Positive Reframes. Positive reframes are a way to think about or conceptualize your child's negative a behavior when you see it. Although a positive reframe may not change your child’s behavior in the moment, it may help you keep your patience just long enough to turn what would be a negative (or no) interaction into a learning opportunity!

Below are some examples of common situations of children’s behaviors or words that can be frustrating, and a potential positive reframe for that behavior.

Try some of these out, or come up with your own and see how they work for you!

A printable PDF of the Positive Reframe list above can be found here:


Disclaimer: The Information provided through this website, including the various pages, blog posts, and emails, are designed for informational purposes only and does not constitute a client/therapist relationship. The information is not intended to replace medical advice or mental health treatment. Every individual person's situation is unique. Please seek out individual care if needed.



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