Why it is dangerous to overuse the phrase «You must»
How often do parents say the phrase «You must» to their children? Just like that, without an explanation, so that the child must finally do what is required of him/her.
«You have to brush your teeth in the morning. We have to visit Grandma». It is really needed. Still, there is always a hidden reason. Why do you have to brush your teeth? Otherwise, they will be sick. Why visit grandmother? Because she misses you.
You always have to explain the reason. Why is it necessary? It adds awareness, it is safer for the listener and, most importantly, it can be discussed.
Practically all parents say the phrase «You must». We don’t urge you not to use it at all. You have to explain the reasons for any «must». «Take this chair from the aisle» – the reason is clear, you shouldn’t waste your time explaining it, but a hastily said phrase can hurt.
«You must learn well», we say to the child. Why do we say this? There may be several reasons for that. Maybe we are afraid that he/she won’t enter college. Maybe we believe that he/she can’t become a decent person without knowing the subject. Maybe we’re just worried that his/her marks will make people think badly of us.
What if an honest reason is the last one? Perhaps this discovery would have had a big impact on our actions. Your conversation with a child probably would not have happened at all.
The words «If you don’t do something, then …» allows you to reach the listener’s mind. It becomes clear that you don’t want to cuss, but you want to adjust the situation and to convey your point of view to the child. In addition and most importantly, the phrase when you explain the reason lets you establish a dialogue.