Your words matter:
Say ‘YES’ as often as possible
Use yes as often as possible
When I had my first child, Michael, my mother- in- law, a kind, loving and well-respected parent of eight, gave me some of the best advice I was ever given in raising children.
She said, ‘Say yes as often as possible’.
When I questioned her further, she explained that she didn’t mean letting children have everything they wanted. What she meant was that the way you phrased your responses to them, meant the difference between sounding positive or negative and children feeling like you are always saying no.
For example, if your son asked to play on the computer, you could answer,
“No, you haven’t even started cleaning up your room”.
Or you could say,
“Yes, when you have cleaned up your room”.
One response is more open and reassuring than the other, offering the child the very real opportunity to participate in the activity without pointing out what they haven’t done.
Much of what teachers say to students could also be rephrased in the same way to sound more positive and encouraging.
When you are giving instructions, think about the words and tone you use:
“Yes, you can have free time once you have completed your class work.”
“Yes, you can chat with your friends once the first two questions are completed.”
“Yes, you can go on the computer as soon as your desk is tidy.”
“Yes, the class can have a game once the room is back to order.”
When you think about the words you use with your students, you go a long way to creating the kind of positive classroom culture you want.