Stop saying “be careful!”

Have you ever stopped to think about how many times you call out “Be careful” to your child? I’d be willing to bet that it’s zillions of times! While we mean well and our intentions are pure (I mean who doesn’t want to protect their beautiful bubbas?!) saying this phrase is not only useless for them but can hinder their independence and development.

How you ask? ‘Be careful’ is not an instruction, it’s a statement. Your child may have absolutely no idea or concept of how to ‘be careful’ in that scenario. Chances are, if they did know how to ‘be careful’ then they would already be doing it.

Instead, bring attention to the actual points of the situation that concern you and how they could handle it eg “Hold on with your hands tightly”.

Saying ‘be careful’ hinders the child and robs them of the opportunity to problem solve and experience cause and effect. I’m not saying just ignore them and let them do dangerous stuff, rather in older children you can increase their problem solving skills and ask questions like “what is your plan”, “what will happen next?” etc.

Below is a fantastic resource I stumbled across that outlines these further.

Your homework is to try to stop yourself before you launch into a ‘be careful’, or if you’ve just said it, that’s ok. It’s fantastic that you’ve realised it – before you used to just do it on autopilot! After you’ve let a ‘be careful’ slip, you could follow that up with one of the suggested scripts below.

Look at you Mama, improving and evolving! Go you!!

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