Parent Smarter, Not Harder: Encouraging Kids to Use Their Words

Parent Smarter, Not Harder: Tip #5: Encourage Children to use Their Words

We have a couple of routinely heard phrases in our house that on the surface might seem just too simple to actually work but I love it when parenting is simple and with time, support, love and consistency, simple things can work well with kids. What are these phrases you might ask? Well, they are variations of the following;

“Use your words, please.”

“Mummy ears can’t hear whingy voices, please use your proper words so that I can hear you.”

We can support our children (whatever their age, once they are verbal) to take the time to stop and think and to ask for what they want rather than whining, yelling or complaining, and pointing and gesturing as they do so (in the case of toddlers). Let’s be clear – this doesn’t mean that they are going to be given what they ask for but it is a darn sight more likely that they will, or that we can reach a peaceful compromise, when they are speaking nicely and simply asking for what they need or want.

You might phrase your request differently, depending upon the age and development of your children but for me the key has been to keep it short and use it consistently, and offering help with finding the words for toddlers when necessary.

Do you have a standard phrase you use to encourage your children to stop, think and speak?

Visit the previous Parent Smarter, Not Harder posts by clicking on an image below…

Parent Smarter, Not Harder: A series at Childhood 101

Parent Smarter, Not Harder: The Cause to Pause
Parent Smarter, Not Harder: Being prepared


  1. “I’m not offering that right now” if one of the kids wants a snack that,well, is not being offered at that given time 🙂
    Consistency has meant that there’s no tantrum when they don’t get what it is that they want.

    1. Love your phrase, Leslie, and you are spot on about the consistency being so important.

  2. nicole holliday says:

    I use ‘in a sentence please’ which has worked wonders with our three year old being very frustrated recently. It took a few days but now he’s even starting to do it on his own before I ask. I picked it up from my four years old school maths programme as they ask this when answering maths questions. I ask him to include my name and obviously manners also. Please and thank you :-))

Comments are closed.