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Positive language for kids!

Updated: 6 days ago

ASD Books - Jan 26, 2023

Positive, Engaging & Empowering special needs children, teachers and parents!

I have found, as a special needs mum, that positive action words are MOST effective when trying to communicate with higher needs children.

Lets walk through some examples of language changes (its hard, I know, but practise, practise, practise!)


  • Child is distracted - instead of "Look at the teacher" we want the child to focus on the object - the ball. "Look at the ball"

This is especially effective when working with children who need help

developing their hand / eye coordination.

  • The child isn't looking after equipment eg a tennis racket, usually you would say "don't drag the racket!" but instead say "keep the racket up" (motion holding racket up in the air) which can later be shortened to "racket up!" as a quick and effective reminder.

  • "Swing this way" and if your child is anything like mine, they will need a reason "because we want to keep the other children safe!", common would be saying "dont hit the ball to them, face this way" which can leave the child focused on "them" or wondering why they want to face away from "them" when they want to engage with the others. You want the child to keep others safe and focus on the ball.

  • If your child has a favourite toy they just want to regulate with, the toy can play catch "__ is ready, are you?" hold the toys arms open ready for the catch!


  • We are often tempted to say "don't run" when yelling "WALK!" instead is far more effective when trying to get your child to be safe.

  • Using the word "together" reminds the child they must stay with you. It is a short and effective action word.

  • Children often get hyped up when out and about, instead of feeling the need to control the hyperactivity use the word "calmly" as in "Calmly walk together"

  • If your child is a runner, or little adventurer using the word "here" is a great action word that can help the child understand a safe boundary and keep their focus in the immediate area where you can see.

  • Similarly using "be in this space" gives your child a place to be while feeling like they have some space to move.