Giveaway: What Not to Say $12 ARV {8/23 US/CAN} CLOSED

July 23rd, 2011 by Dionna | 56 Comments
Posted in Book Discussions, Reviews and Giveaways

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This is a joint giveaway with Code Name: Mama and Natural Parents Network. You may enter at one site only. Please find the section marked “Win it!” for the mandatory main entry and optional bonus entries.

Have You Ever Heard One of These Phrases Come Out of Your Mouth?

“Because I said so!”

“Go apologize for what you did.”

“Be a good boy!”

“Stop or you’ll hurt yourself!”

Good Job!

“She’s shy.”

“Look at me when I’m talking to you!”

These are only a sampling of the parentisms Sarah MacLaughlin has written about in her book, What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children. Sarah chose to focus on this collection of common expressions “[b]ecause ill-chosen words are at the heart of most negative interactions with kids. Being mindful of our words, and how they are said, is vital for a child’s well-being. How adults talk to kids greatly influences who they turn out to be.” It may seem an impossible task for many of us to remember what not to say to a child, especially since we’re so busy trying to figure out what to say sometimes. But don’t beat yourself up if you catch yourself using an ineffective phrase; as Sarah reassures us, “awareness always precedes change.”1

So why do we say some of the things we do? For many of us, phrases from childhood haunt us – even though we didn’t like to hear the words when we were children. I know I’m not the only parent who finds herself saying something and wondering when I turned into my mother. Another big reason parents snap at children is because we are stressed, fatigued, or are simply tired of the endless questions and big emotions of our young children. If you find yourself having these knee-jerk reactions very often, it is a sign that you need to focus on meeting your own needs too.

Some parenting phrases have become engrained in our collective parenting conscious due to current trends – expressions like “good job!” that we hear everywhere. For everything. And finally, parents often use phrases because they are scared of either harming their children or provoking tantrums – I’m sure we’ve all been there!2 So what can we do to change?

“What Not to Say” Is a Fast Read & a Useful Parenting Tool

What Not to Say is a short and inspiring read. Sarah discusses 66 phrases that adults commonly use and why they can be harmful to our relationships with children and to children’s emotional development. She gives ideas on more positive things to say instead, as well as children’s books that touch on the feelings and situations surrounding each phrase.

Here’s an example from the book:

Be a big boy.

This is very confusing for a little boy! How am I supposed to get bigger? he might well ask himself. Even if he understands that the request is about more mature behavior, not physical size, it’s still unclear. Instead, ask for what you want: “Please keep your food on the plate during dinner.”
The plea to act like a “big” boy or girl is often used during toilet learning. If you want a child to go, make a direct request: “Will you climb up and sit on the potty for a minute?” A teaching concept called “scaffolding” comes in handy here. Like the steel structures at building sites, this means guiding progress while allowing a child to do things on his own. Scaffolds for toilet learning might be making sure the child has easily removable clothing, and asking him to teach a doll or stuffed animal to use the potty. (There are specialty dolls for this purpose.)

Reading Tips:
Toilet Tales by Andrea Wayne Von Konigslow. Ages six months and up. Which animals know how to use the toilet?
Bigger by Daniel Kirk. Ages three and up. A young boy assesses how much he’s grown over the past years.3

The book is full of common-sense suggestions for building trusting relationships with children and being mindful of what we say. Of course as with any book, parents can take what works and leave the rest. For example, the author recommends parents use the “3 R’s”: Request, Remind, Reinforce. If a child ignores an adult request, remind the child of your request and “include the consequences for not complying.” If the child ignores the adult again, restate your request and impose the consequences.4 For families who are working toward cooperation instead of expecting children to blindly comply, this advice is probably not compatible. Overall, however, the author encourages parents to avoid punishment and arbitrary rules and concentrate on giving children freedom to grow and explore in a respectful environment.


You can buy your own copy of What Not to Say on Amazon for $12.


For your own chance to win ONE OF TWO COPIES of What Not to Say, enter in the comments below. Contest is open to mailing addresses in the United States and Canada only.

REQUIRED ENTRY: Think about those common parent phrases. What is one phrase you have heard yourself use (and later regretted)? Share it in the comments!.

Leave a valid email address in at least one of your comments so we can contact you if you win. You can write them like this to foil spambots: mail {at} naturalparentsnetwork {dot} com.

This is a joint giveaway between Code Name: Mama and Natural Parents Network. You may enter at one site only, and we’ll be recording IP addresses to ensure that there are no duplicate entries. That said, please do check out and enjoy both sites!

BONUS ENTRIES: Complete one or more of the following to increase your chance of winning after completing the mandatory entry above (leave a separate comment for each so we can count them all):

  • Visit Sarah’s website, read the What Not to Say PDF excerpt, and tell us one thing you learned.
  • Subscribe to Natural Parents Network in a reader or by email (1 entry for each).
  • Subscribe to Code Name: Mama in a reader or by email (1 entry for each).
  • Leave a relevant comment on a non-giveaway article at Natural Parents Network and tell us which post (comment on separate posts for up to 3 entries total).
  • Leave a relevant comment on a non-giveaway article from Code Name: Mama and tell us which post (comment on separate posts for up to 3 entries total).
  • Share Sarah’s website on Facebook.
  • Like What Not to Say on Facebook.
  • Like Code Name: Mama on Facebook.
  • Like Natural Parents Network on Facebook.
  • Post this giveaway on your Facebook page or wall and leave the link (1 entry). You can use this status update: Enter to win 1 of 2 copies of What Not to Say from @Code Name: Mama and @Natural Parents Network. Contest ends 8/23 and is open to US/Canada shipping addresses. Be sure to attach the contest URL to your update! (
  • Follow @CodeNameMama on Twitter and leave your Twitter name in the comment.
  • Follow @NatParNet on Twitter and leave your Twitter name in the comment.
  • Follow @SarahMacLaugh on Twitter and leave your Twitter name in the comment.
  • Tweet about this giveaway (up to 3 times total, at least 24 hours apart). Tweet this text: Enter to #win 1 of 2 copies of What Not to Say via @CodeNameMama & @NatParNet! {8.23, US/CAN} #giveaway
  • Enter another of the giveaways on Natural Parents Network (1 extra entry per giveaway — check back for more).
  • Enter another of the giveaways on Code Name: Mama (1 extra entry per giveaway — check back for more).
  • Put the Code Name: Mama badge on your website or add to your text blogroll for 2 extra entries each. The HTML code for the badge is on the sidebar of this site. Leave your site URL in the comment.
  • Put the Natural Parents Network badge on your website or add to your text blogroll for 2 extra entries each. The HTML code for the badge is on the right sidebar of Leave your site URL in the comment.


  • Contest open to UNITED STATES and CANADA mailing addresses.
  • Contestants may enter at either Code Name: Mama or Natural Parents Network but not both. Entries will be combined for the drawing of a single winner.
  • Leave each entry as a separate comment so we can count them all.
  • For actions like following and subscribing, if you already follow or subscribe, just let us know in your comment.
  • For tasks that garner you multiple entries, you can copy and paste the comment with a #1, #2, etc.
  • You don’t have to do any of the bonus entries, but you do have to complete the first mandatory one.
  • We will pick the winner through after the contest closes and send an email notification. Leave a valid email address as you comment so we can contact you if you win. If we can’t reach a winner or don’t hear back within a couple days, we’ll draw a new name. Entries will be added together from both sites. If there are 50 entries from the non-NPN site and 65 entries from NPN, we will count the non-NPN entries as numbers 1-50 and the NPN entries as numbers 51-115.
  • After giveaway closes, a representative from NPN will contact the winner. The winner will have 48 hours to respond by email; otherwise, NPN will select another winner.
  • Any questions, let our giveaway editors know: ShannonR {at} NaturalParentsNetwork {dot} com and Amanda {at} NaturalParentsNetwork {dot} com

Contest closes 8/23 at 11:59 p.m. PST.

Disclosure: Our reviewer received a copy of this book for review purposes.
We try to seek out only products we think you would find
relevant and useful to your life as a natural parent.
If we don’t like a product, we won’t be recommending it to you.
See our full disclosure policy here.


Dionna, the reviewer of What Not to Say, blogs about natural parenting at Code Name: Mama and is also the cofounder of Natural Parents Network and

56 Responses to:
"Giveaway: What Not to Say $12 ARV {8/23 US/CAN} CLOSED"

  1. Jessica M.   jmorganb

    I’ve tried so hard to eradicate “You don’t need to cry about that” from my arsenal. I sometimes forget how hard it is for a small child to release their frustration and me telling mine not to cry about something trivial doesn’t make matters better!

  2. Jessica M.   jmorganb

    I subscribe to Code Name: Mama through Google Reader.

  3. Jeri Thurber   jeri_thurber

    A phrase I find myself saying sometimes is ‘I’ve had enough!’, like, I can’t be around my little one anymore. This is clearly not true, all it takes is a slight change in the situation for me to relax a little, but I do not like this thought pattern.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. Jeri Thurber   jeri_thurber

    subscribed to NPN in Google Reader.

  5. Deborah Mathis

    I would love to have this book! I find myself saying the wrong thing frequently. :-(
    mlleoiseau at hotmail dot com

  6. Deborah Mathis

    I just subscribed to the Natural Parents Network. Looks cool!

    mlleoiseau at hotmail dot com

  7. Deborah Mathis

    I’m already subscribed to Code Name Mama.

    mlleoiseau at hotmail dot com

  8. julie bagwell

    I’m really interested in reading more about this book.

  9. julie bagwell

    subscribe to both code name mama and Natural parenting network

  10. Gaby @ Tmuffin   tmuffindotcom

    I often say “Be careful. You could hurt yourself.” I try to be so careful with what I say, but it’s hard without knowing the alternatives. I would love to win this book!

    gaby {at} Tmuffin {dot} com

  11. Gaby @ Tmuffin   tmuffindotcom

    I just read the PDF on Sarah’s website. I love when she says that so much of what toddlers do baffles us. I just experienced this when my exhausted toddler threw a tantrum because I had him sleep in his crib instead of his big boy bed (which I probably shouldn’t call that anyway, ha.) When he won’t go to sleep in his big boy bed, it’s hard to decode whether I’m offering him the wrong choices (or too many), whether he just wants the freedom to play, or whether he feels uncomfortable sleeping in his bed.

  12. Gaby @ Tmuffin   tmuffindotcom

    I subscribed to Code Name Mama’s RSS feed.

  13. Gaby @ Tmuffin   tmuffindotcom

    I shared Sarah’s website on my facebook page:

  14. Gaby @ Tmuffin   tmuffindotcom

    I liked What Not To Say on Facebook.

  15. Gaby @ Tmuffin   tmuffindotcom

    I also entered the Baby K’Tan giveaway on Natural Parents Network (through Very Very Fine’s blog)

  16. Amy   Peace4Parents

    Be careful. Oh my goodness. That one takes some undoing, although when I say it now the intention behind it is genuine… instead of based in fear. I focus on what I really want – for the child to move with care and reverence for the well being of the body or item he or she may be touching. So the phrase itself isn’t so much the problem, but the way I said it before realizing what I really wanted and meant. :) The book sounds great and I am always open to suggestions on enhancing the communication between myself and the kids!

  17. Julia

    I hate the “big girl” thing but catch myself telling her that about using the toilet. Ugh. I would love this book!

  18. Julia

    I subscribe to NPN in a reader.

  19. Julia

    I subscribe to code name mama in a reader.

  20. Julia

    I like NPN on facebook

  21. Julia

    I like code name mama on facebook

  22. Sarah MacLaughlin   sarahmaclaugh

    Thanks for the great review! I actually completely agree with your feedback about the three “R’s,” I definitely always try to work toward cooperation unless it is a safety issue!


  23. Erin   erindp

    Every time I slip and say “you’re driving me crazy”, I always feel terrible. My daughter’s only fifteen months old; she’s just trying to get what she needs from me!

  24. Erin   erindp

    I appreciated the reminder in the excerpt that it’s not the end of the world for us to slip up–it will take time to improve and it’s better to focus forward on preventing future chastisements than stress too much about things we’ve said in the past.

  25. Erin   erindp

    I follow NatParNet on twitter.

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