An Australian parenting guru has revealed why you shouldn’t tell your child to ‘be careful’ when they do something risky and what to say instead.
Nicole from Perth, a child and adolescent physiotherapist, advised her followers in an Instagram post not to say “be careful” to your child as it is “nonsensical” and “not specific enough”.
“It might make them stop if it doesn’t get past their heads, but it won’t help them understand why or how they need to move safely,” she wrote.
Nicole, a child and adolescent physical therapist in Perth, shared why telling your child to “be careful” when they’re taking risks is not a good idea and shared some phrases to use instead.
Nicole said that the words “be careful” can make the child scared or ignore you.
“Most kids will either a) get scared, misunderstand and avoid anything risky (not great for development), or b) just completely ignore you and may end up hurting themselves,” the physical therapist said.
She suggested several alternative words to draw attention to the child’s body, environment, potential risk and problem solving so that they can adequately and independently assess the situation.
She said the phrase “be careful” is “meaningless” and “not specific enough and can make a child scared and unwilling to take risks or ignore you and hurt themselves.”
Saying things like “firm legs”, “strong legs” and “slow and steady” can get your child’s attention on what to do with their body.
Questions about what they might feel, hear, or see can draw their attention to the environment and assess potential risk.
To draw attention to problem solving, Nicole suggested asking questions such as “What’s your plan?” and “do you feel safe?”.
“Keep it short and simple,” she advised.
What to say to a child instead of “Be careful”
Draw their attention to your body
‘Slowly but surely’
Make them aware of the environment and possible risks
‘You can feel…’
‘Do you hear…’
Draw their attention to problem solving
– What’s your plan?
“Do you feel safe to…”
‘Where will you be…’
‘How will you…’
Convince them that you are here
“I’m here if you need help”
Parents in the comments were quick to praise Nicole’s useful advice and said they would begin to apply the strategy.
“It’s so helpful that I automatically say ‘be careful’, but now I will make a conscious effort to change my language and communication,” wrote one mom.
“I’m so guilty about this… be careful, it’s the first thing that comes out of my mouth. I was trying to rethink my brain and anxiety,” said another.
“I’m VERY trying to stop saying ‘be careful’ so now I’m saying ‘slow and sure’ and it’s pretty funny to see my little one when I say it,” commented a third.
She offered several alternative words such as “slow and steady” and “I’m here if you need help” to draw attention to the child’s body, environment, potential risk, and problem solving.
Earlier, Maggie Dent, a leading parenting educator, shared her handy trick for calming a hysterical toddler and promising it works every time.
An Australian parenting expert said that any time your toddler or child has a tantrum, the best thing to do is ask him a question.
The reason this works is because it distracts them and makes them “focus on you, not what makes them angry.”
A leading parenting expert shared her simple two-second trick to calm an angry child, and she promises it will work every time (pictured expert Maggie Dent).
Good examples of questions are: “Was that dad’s car?”, “Do you want a drink?” and “Should we go and play outside?”
A parenting expert said questions like these often help take them off what they’re worried about and help them move on to something else and more exciting.
When this trick was shared on Facebook, dozens of parents soon praised it.
— Yes, it’s good to try to change the subject and train of thought to something more familiar! one mother wrote.
“That’s great,” added another.
Australian parenting educator and writer Maggie Dent says that any time your toddler or child has a tantrum, the best thing to do is to ask them a question (file image)
Parenting expert and educator Sharon Witt also told FEMAIL that while helping a child through a tantrum can be difficult, distraction can be a helpful technique.
“Sometimes when our kids get hysterical, it can be very difficult for them to control their emotions, let alone regulate their thoughts,” she told Daily Mail Australia.
“This is when parents can step in and provide a simple, calm distraction that can provide a short-circuit distraction, giving our young people a chance to stop and take it easy.”
But not all parents agreed with this idea, some said it was akin to “gaslighting” children.
“Let them feel the emotion and process it,” said one mom.
“Or you could recognize that anger and sadness are the right emotions and should not be feared,” added another.
Parenting expert and educator Sharon Witt (pictured) also told FEMAIL that while helping a child through a tantrum can be difficult, distraction can be a helpful technique.
According to the Australian parenting website Raising Children, distraction is “a simple strategy that works well in situations where behavior might be a problem.”
“Pointing to something interesting, starting a simple game, or making funny faces is a great way to distract them when they are acting up, sitting still for a long time, or unable to take turns or share with others,” the website says. .
Good distraction techniques include giving kids other activities, whether it’s a new toy, a game, or a change of scenery in another room.
You can also change the activity or start singing a song to distract them, advises Raising Children.
However, their experts added that there are several situations where distraction won’t work.
This usually happens when your child has hurt someone or is too upset to be comforted.