Julie Jenkins Sathe

“Stop it!” is a perfect example of what I call Dog Talk. It is really quite startling to parents when I reprimand them on their speech pattern by referring to it as Dog Talk. But they sure do get my point.

Dog Talk is the use of short, clipped commands. There is really no teaching, no compassion and no patience in this style of speech. It is clear that Dog Talk is the use of commands rather than directions. If we really look at the difference to us adults it is a matter of perhaps 3 seconds that sets Dog Talk apart from Teaching Speech. But the difference to a child may be life changing!

Here the difference:

DOG TALK: “Get down!”
TEACHING SPEECH: “Samantha, standing on the table is not safe.”

DOG TALK: “Stop it!”
TEACHING SPEECH: “Jennifer, that noise is too loud. Be kind to your baby brother’s ears.”

Remember that our goal as parents is to teach and re-teach. If you seem to be repeating yourself, recognize that your child needs to hear the directions that many times to learn successful behavior. I’m sure that in your job or household life, you have had to practice skills again and again. That is what children need. Somehow, we adults think these skills should be known. Not true. They must be taught, practiced and learned.

As a parent, if we choose to use short commands (Dog Talk) we are only teaching them OUR desires. Many of us were raised that way and we did learn something. We learned what would make the adult mad. We learned (through trial and error) how far we could cross a line. But there is a better way than this fear based style of discipline. This abrupt style misses the best opportunity we have to teach children the real life reasons why a particular behavior is better, so that the child has the skills to make these decisions for themselves in their future, without you nearby.

As parents, we really do have a reason why we are seeking a certain behavior. But do you ever get caught up in it and actually forget why? This style makes you remember your reasons. I guarantee that your reasons will always lead you back to one of the foundational words that I use in the Enlightened Discipline philosophy: Safe, Kind or Clean.

Go back through the examples above. If you need convincing, think of your spouse or coworker talking to you in Dog Talk fashion. How does that feel? Would you accept that? I hope not.