We often tell our kids what not to do, when our goal actually is for them to do it differently, or better. Our parents probably did the same with us. We're so used to the negative language.
* Don't leave your clothes on the floor.
* Don't leave the milk on the counter.
* Don't be late coming home from the party.
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The word 'don't' feels controlling. How do you feel, as an adult, when someone tells you what not to do? It gets your back up, doesn't it? Nobody wants to be bossed around. And 'don't' gives the message that you're not capable of doing things well or making good choices. You want to build trust in your relationship, not resentment.
If you want better results, and for your children to understand what you really expect from them, change your 'don't' into a 'do'. It will keep them on track and remembering what you want. For example:
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* Clothes belong in the hamper.
* Milk goes in the refrigerator.
* I'll see you at 11:00.
Tell them what you expect. Don't reinforce what you don't want. Oops. There's a 'don't'. I'll just leave it at "Tell them what you expect."