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

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

70 Responses to Giveaway: What Not to Say $12 ARV {8/23; US/Can} CLOSED

  1. Elizabeth

    I say “What a big girl” pretty often- I now know that I should be praising the specific skill.

  2. corey

    I say “Good Job” quite a bit and I know my wife says “Look at me…” Hope to win and learn more.

  3. corey

    email subscriber here

  4. corey

    I’ve entered the Wool Belt giveaway.

  5. corey

    I’ve entered the Ecawear giveaway.

  6. corey

    I’ve entered the Wood Dryer balls giveaway.

  7. corey

    I’ve entered the green gamboni giveaway.

  8. corey

    I’ve entered the SmartKlean giveaway.

  9. corey

    I’ve entered the NonViolent Communication giveaway.

  10. corey

    I’ve entered the Lonely girl giveaway.

  11. andalene

    I’ve said “She’s shy” many times about my daughter – who rarely uses words to express. I feel that it’s wrong but would like to learn more.

  12. andalene

    subscribe via email

  13. andalene

    entered reusable diaper liners g/a

  14. andalene

    entered WoolBelt g/a.

  15. andalene

    entered Ecapants g/a.

  16. andalene

    entered Wool Dryer Balls givewaay

  17. andalene

    entered Green Gamboni g/a.

  18. andalene

    entered SmartKlean g/a.

  19. andalene

    entered Non Violent book g/a.

  20. andalene

    entered Lonely girl g/a.