How to Use Do Language: alternatives to “no” “stop” “don’t”
In ABA therapy, we like to teach children replacement behaviors. This means teaching children what to do instead of what not to do. This can be taught through language as well, which is where “do” language comes in. These are phrases that specifically tell the child what you want them to do.
Some examples include:
“You can yell when we go outside” instead of “Stop yelling.”
“Would you like to draw in this coloring book or paper?” instead of “Don’t draw on the wall.”
“Let’s walk so we can be safe” instead of “No running.”
This language teaches children what their options are rather than hearing “no”, “don’t”, or “stop” multiple times a day. Positive language and phrases are an effective communication technique and teach children new skills and behaviors.
Let’s face it, there will be times when we do have to say no. However, the less we use it, the easier it will be for children to understand and accept it when we do say no. When it is not possible to say yes, it is best to acknowledge their frustration and show them you understand that it is hard to hear no sometimes, and then work together to help them through the problem!
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