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Saying "Don't" do something to actually get them to do it

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Ok - I have no idea how to word the title of this thread. But I have a question. We hang out with a friend of ours in the neighborhood (she is great and is a wonderful mom!!). She is very interactive with my kids which I think is great!! So this thread is absolutely not about bashing anything that she does. I am just curious if others do this and does it end up backfiring with your kids.

One of her playful parenting techniques is to say "Don't _____" when in reality she wants them to do it. For example, "Don't give me a kiss" "Don't give your mama a kiss". Yesterday I was trying to help my daughter get over her fear of going in the water and the mom said "Now don't you go swimming."

It isn't a technique that I am comfortable using myself (and I really don't know why it makes me uncomfortable), but is there any harm in her using it with my kids. Will they get confused when I tell them "Don't write on the walls" and think that I am just kidding?
post #2 of 22
Chances are she's using a playful tone of voice when she says it - and you will NOT use a playful tone of voice when you tell them not to write on the walls. Kids tend to be pretty good at telling the difference.

Of course I don't believe in using the word "don't" in directions anyway - I much prefer "write on the paper" to "don't write on the walls".
post #3 of 22
My gut reaction is that it trends toward the manipulative and I prefer not to go in that direction with my daughter. We definitely tease and play around but to me they are two different things.
post #4 of 22
I do that sort of "don't" all the time, but my dd *loves* it. Nothing brings a smile to her face faster than the chance to do what I'm telling her not to do. It is all very playful, and while she occasionaly tries to draw me into a game over a serious "Don't do that" I find it easy to clarify by saying "dd, I am not playing around right now. I am serious about xyz."

I think like any technique it can be overdone, or used with kids who don't care for it. It isn't my default way for interacting with every child.

My neighbors must think we're crazy, because several times a week I can be found in my pajamas chasing dh and dd to the car yelling "You can't go to preschool! Get back in here this instant." This is after they make a big show of sneaking out the front door. We're a goofy bunch.
post #5 of 22
I used to do that sometimes.

"Don't you smile!!!"

But, I also did the

"Ooo, I like the red one" (I really liked the blue one) and she would pick the blue one.

Cohersion at it's worst.
post #6 of 22
I do it sometimes. but only in a very silly way - "don't smile, don't laugh "

I think using it too much will just undermind your athourity. I would never use it in a situation where my don't inght actually mean don't. (like swimming)
post #7 of 22
I think it could be confusing if she is doing it with your kids and you don't do it that way. I'd tell her to save it for her kids who are used to it.

I think it is harmless in some situations- like choosing the color of a sweater or kissing your mother- but I don't think it should be used in every parenting situation to manipulate kids.

I don't see how it would be helpful in getting a child over a fear to tell them "don't do [thing you are afraid of]". I would think it would re-enforce the fear for a lot of kids or make them feel worse about being afraid.
post #8 of 22
Some kids love to be 'bad' and it lets them have a chance to play the bad guy. When my 6 year old has the need to be evil and wicked we do it a lot- I love it cause so much gets done with a smile (or with him sneaking around to put laundry away, set the table, etc) We both know it is a game. I never saw the harm in it.

At the same time my kids love to tell tall tales and we don't discourage it because it is lying, but encourage them to make it so very wild that it is obviously a tall tale, not a fib.
post #9 of 22
I sometimes do something like that but in more of a question form like "You don't want any ice cream - do you?" to draw one of my kids back in if they are pouting and not wanting to be part of the group, but I don't know if I would be comfortable using it if it was with a command because I am not sure that my kids always pick up on the nuances of a playful tone - they certainly don't get sarcasm :
post #10 of 22
I'm really uncomfortable using the reverse psychology thing with my son even just in theory. I guess I feel like it's being untruthful and I want him to know that what I say I mean, at all times, you know? But the main reason I don't use the reverse psychology trick with him is that my son would never fall for it. From the very beginning my son has been the Option C kid. It's like, do you want to wear your yellow shirt or your green shirt and he'll choose red. So if I say, "Ok, DON'T wear your yellow shirt!" I can pretty much guarantee he'd look at me as if I'd had a frontal labotomy and just agree with me.
post #11 of 22
I think for a lot of parents it's a way to turn a potential battle into a game. The child knows the parent is kidding and enjoys the humor and role-reversal in the situation.

Kind of like teasing a cranky child by saying, "Don't smile!" will make them crack up every time.
post #12 of 22
Originally Posted by mimie View Post
I think for a lot of parents it's a way to turn a potential battle into a game. The child knows the parent is kidding and enjoys the humor and role-reversal in the situation.

Kind of like teasing a cranky child by saying, "Don't smile!" will make them crack up every time.

There is nothing untruthful about the way we play "Don't do that!!" My daughter loves the game. Yes, it can make so-so things into fun things, but not because of the manipulation factor. For us, the "no" game IS the fun. I have a spirited kid and she so enjoys the opportunity to battle mama. We all win when we can expend that energy in a playful way.

In our house, it isn't reverse psychology a la tricking a child. It is theatre of the absurd, or at least theatre of the improbable.
post #13 of 22
Using it in jest I am totally all for!
post #14 of 22
I do it with my son, in an opposite way, when he is being obstinate. He will tell me something like "I don't want brocolli, I don't like brocolli", but he really does, he is just saying it to be disagreeable. So I will say something like "you don't like brocolli? okay, you can never have brocolli ever again, brocolli is only for grown ups, ptooey, nasty brocolli, not for kids!" all said in a sort of joking way, and immediately he says "I WANT brocolli, I LOVE brocolli". Frankly I don't see the harm, this phase is short, and funny and I don't see it having any lasting consequences. Mind you, food isn't the only thing we do this with. My son thinks it's hilarious, as do I.
post #15 of 22
We do this with the potty. From when she first started potty learning it was a 'race' to the potty with us saying "Now, you can't use our potty! It's not for little girls! Just mommy and daddy!" And her giggling like mad and racing us to the potty. Much better, IMO, that bribing her with candy or treats, etc. We have fun with it and it's our "playful parenting" last resort type of technique. It takes the pressure off in hard situations and gets her to do what we want without problems. And, FWIW, she clearly knows when we are not joking/playing around and when we are serious. Kids are smart
post #16 of 22
I do it a lot. My kid LOVES it, and it works unless she really truly doesn't want to do the thing I'm trying to get her to do. I use a silly exaggeratedly cross voice, different from the voice I use when I seriously am saying no.

She totally knows the difference, although one of her friends who we hang out with a lot does NOT get the sarcasm, so he gets confused sometimes and I have to explain to him that I am joking around.

But it works really well for my kid.
post #17 of 22
I do this to get a picture of dd smiling - "Dont smile!" and then "Make an ugly face!" Sometimes I actually get a
post #18 of 22
i do it all the time. my ds is very cranky. all i have to do is tell him not to smile or laugh and he smiles/laughs. i used it as a way to lighten the mood. sometimes i even say it when he's in a good mood, just to make him laugh.

i never say it to my dd, though. it would just make her even more upset.
post #19 of 22
My kids love that.

They also know when I'm serious.

Though, I have to say that it's fairly useless saying "DON'T do that!" to a kid. Most of the time it's like they only hear 'Do that.' Not even on a conscious level sometimes. Kind of like "Don't think about an elephant!"

So as a rule, I try to phrase things more concisely "Use walking feet, please" instead of "DON'T RUN!"

I guess I don't take anything seriously all the time, not even parenting. We all have different ways to be playful. Perhaps that's her way. I wouldn't waste time worrying about it, nobody's making you do it too.
post #20 of 22
My child loooooved that for a while, although it got rather tedious for me!

It was a fun game for her, and she was always asking to play the opposites game - ("You had better not brush your teeth, kiddo. We don't let kids with shiny teeth live in this house. Nice, rotten ones with stinky breath only around here. Oh no, you're brushing your teeth! Stop! Stop!"). Endless hilarity, unless it's your tenth time playing that game that day...

After a while, we moved on, but it was fine for a bit.
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