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My New Favorite Parenting Phrase

I have a new favorite parenting phrase! And all credit has to go to Mars from Montessori on Mars for giving it to me. She modeled this simple phrase, "I'm concerned that..." with her daughter and it was so totally brilliant that I had to try it. And, guess what, it WORKS! It really really works, so I have to share. 

So, when do I use it?! For us it has been the perfect way to reach a child without causing a power struggle when there is either something that has to be done or there is a child what is likely to get hurt from continuing the same course of action. But honestly, I use this phrase all of the time now. Daily. Here are a couple of examples.

As a Montessori parent, "I'm concerned that..." has become my go to phrase for helping children assess risk and avoiding a power struggle

One, Gus, is climbing on the back of our couch. Except instead of just climbing (which I don't mind in principle) he's also being chased by an older sibling as part of some game. They are all having fun so it's not something I need to stop completely and I don't want to intervene and force a solution. So, I simply say, "Augustus, I'm concerned that you're going to fall off the couch when moving so quickly." It gives him a second to assess his own risk and make a decision based on that assessment. And 9 times out of 10, he happily makes a safer choice. 

Or, let's say Henry is running around trying to get ready to leave for a playdate. He's packing everything but the coat he needs. "I'm concerned that if you don't put your coat on you'll forget it here." And, bam, the coat is on! If I had asked him to put his coat on directly he would have either said he didn't need it, or continued to push it off. Again, it was just enough of a pause to allow him to assess the risk that I saw in a situation. 

As a Montessori parent, "I'm concerned that..." has become my go to phrase for helping children assess risk and avoiding a power struggle

My goal here isn't immediate compliance with the risk that I am assessing. If I saw actual danger (versus just some risk and this doesn't have to be risk of harm) then I would step in more concretely. But these are for those times when you want to suggest one way but give the child some autonomy in the decision. I'm not nagging. I'm not forcing. I'm expressing a genuine feeling and emotion and explaining why. And, it resonates. 

So, next time you can see a consequence that your child can't. Try it. "I'm concerned that you'll fall from the counter." "I'm concerned that we will run out of time to go to the library if we don't get dressed." "I'm concerned that throwing the ball in here will break the lights." "I'm concerned that..." 

Have you ever tried this phrase? Or something like it? What's your favorite parenting phrase? 

As a Montessori parent, "I'm concerned that..." has become my go to phrase for helping children assess risk and avoiding a power struggle



Unknown said…
Oh so beautiful and doesn’t sound like nagging👌🏻
Nicholette said…
I like this! I often ask "how will you feel fall off the couch" or something similar, which has the same effect on my son. I'll definitely give "I'm concerned..." a try tomorrow.

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