I’ve been correcting my daughter’s behaviour — a lot.  Don’t leave your towel on the floor. Don’t suck on your hair. Don’t eat with your fingers. Don’t, don’t, don’t. 

“Where’s my sweet helpful girl gone?” I wondered. 

I’ve been doing a lot more correcting than encouraging lately; mostly speaking to my daughter when I have something negative to say. I don’t think I realised I was doing it actually. My husband pulled me up the other night after the kids were in bed.

He said, “Kelly, in the morning, I want you to hold that girl, and tell her how much you love her.” 

Then he put his hand over his heart in a rare emotional gesture. “I just know she needs that right now. Don’t worry about the other behavioural stuff at the moment. Just love her.”

Draw a love heart in the sand

I felt rebuked. But glad at the same time. And I knew he was right.

The next day, I didn’t “don’t”. I just loved. I made a point of holding my daughter and telling her how glad I was that she was my child.  I looked for ways to encourage her and invest in her day. I just loved her.

This daughter of mine: she is like me in a lot of ways. She can often conform into who others think her to be. As she matures, I’ll teach her the dangers of that. And while I don’t want her to absolutely rely on encouragement to exist, I do want to provide an environment where she can feel good about who she is. And that place is here, with me.

You know what? I have my sweet helpful girl back. The change in my daughter’s temperament was so dramatic, almost instant, that I knew her behaviour was actually more about my behaviour, than hers.

It’s sometimes like that with parenting. Behavioural issues can go both ways…and bounce from parent to child. Here’s to reality checks, and people who can pull you up in a proactive way. And here’s to providing an encouraging environment where kids can feel good about who they are.


Other Confessions

When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough

Sorry the House is in a Mess

I Stay Up Too Late

What Sort of Mother Am I?

Terrible Mother Moments

Push too hard. And not enough.

I’m pleased to enter this post as part of the Digital Parents Blog Carnival.

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Kelly loves life at both ends of the spectrum: wearing high heel shoes one day and hiking boots the next; sipping tea out of a pretty cup and slurping hot coffee from a camping mug; challenging herself physically and stopping for quiet unhurried moments to feel the wind on her face. Kelly and her husband Matthew seek to live a fun and adventurous life with their four children and pet bird.

Latest posts by Kelly - Be A Fun Mum (see all)


  1. Pauline says

    Thank you. Can you repost this regularly to remind us? Once you get into a negative rut, it can be hard to get out, or to see the light! I’m glad it’s not just me, but pleased your husband was so generous and understanding.

  2. says

    Timely post, Kelly.
    I’ve just spent the morning “Don’t-ing” all three Harvey children. And it was awful. All I wanted was one job completed… From start to finish! It gone done in the end.. Just!
    The rest of the day will be no more “don’t” and more “do”!

  3. Mel says

    Oh Kelly, thank you. I’ve been hearing myself and hubby saying “dont” alot lately. This post has made me really think about how I react to the things my four children do. They certainly don’t mean to push my buttons but I allow it too. Time for me to change that. As usual another brilliant relevant post, sometimes Kelly I swear you’re writing them just for me haha xo

  4. says

    Great post, Kelly – I’m guilty of doing that a lot too.
    And well done Hubby for gently reminding how important love and encouragement is x

  5. Peta says

    I’ve noticed this to be extremely true in my relationship with my daughter (6). Whenever I feel that her behaviour is “off” I take a long hard look at myself, and I can usually align the two.

    Kids pick up on things so easily, and it doesn’t even have to be anything said, our body language says a lot, sometimes I do not even realise that I’ve rolled my eyes or shrugged my shoulders – but even this is enough to alter her response to me.

    Thanks Kelly for sharing this post… It helps to have a reminder every now and again.

  6. says

    Thank you for your honesty. That word must get a little tough for a child to hear all the time… I appreciate the timely warning me now as a new mum, before my son starts to do things that I “don’t” want him to do. Thank you Kelly for sharing the Mothers Love.

  7. says

    Thank you for being so honest and sharing. I have found what you wrote to be so true in my own relationship with my 5yr old.
    When I spend time with her she is the neatest angel ever, when I don’t the cheeky behavior creeps up.
    I am constantly reminded that our children grow up so quick, and while it is important to train them to live well and be responsible, it is also important to ask what you want to leave them with the most.
    I don’t want my daughters to be left with a nagging mum with a list of jobs but a mum who they knew loved them to bits.
    Thank you again for sharing and the reminder.

  8. says

    What a great post! I’ve actually been realizing this a lot lately. My behavior directly effects hers. If I’m in and upbeat, encouraging mood, she is too, and vice-versa. Thank you for putting this in words that I could not have expressed myself. I think this is a good lesson to learn so we can grow and improve as parents. :)

  9. says

    I’m struck by how perceptive your husband was and how gentle his comment was about changing your behaviour. What a top bloke :)

    I have caught myself out in the ‘Don’t’ spiral, seems to have a lot when I’m stressed or rushed. Am trying to be more aware of my stress levels and how they impact on my children, but it is tough going.

  10. says

    This exactly what I needed to read today. In fact I was just about to Blog about this exact thing. Thanks for the sane voice that will surely help me with my daughter at this time. xx

  11. says

    Your posts always hit the spot with me Kel. I think I’m using the word don’t a bit too much at the moment even though I have always tried to avoid it and use ‘do’ instead! xo

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