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There will be no next time.

That’s what I tell my girls when they flub up.


You really messed up and now you’re outta luck.

There will be no next time.

I’m kidding.

It just sounded ludicrous in my head to respond, “There will be no next time,” to a child making a child-like mistakes, such as forgetting to go potty before leaving the house and then needing to use it when you’re only five minutes out the door.

Actually, next time is one of the go-to phrases I use with my girls when they drop the ball.

Not only do the words next time cool them, they give me a pause. This pause lessens the urgency and helps me to crisis manage the situation. The words move us from the upset emotions of now and into the future …the next time.

I learned about these magic words in the book, Parent Talk

These two words were a mind shift for me.

Next time is a move away from,  “Don’t interrupt me,” or “What were you thinking? Be more …” or “Why did you do that? You should have …,” or “, Seriously, you’re tracking mud into the house. Don’t do that. Take your shoes off. You know that’s what we do.”

When my girls make a mistake or I’d like to see a different outcome/behavior in the future, this is a chance for growth. First I like to redirect them and then we talk about next time. 

  • Next time, please wait until I’m hang up the phone before you begin talking.
  • Next time, please put your dishes on the counter before you grab your iPad. (I first tell her to stop the Minecraft and move her dinner dishes. Then I’d say, next time …).
  • Next time, move your glass from the edge of the table to prevent it from falling on ground.

Next time is more positive than “See, this is what happens when you put your glass on the edge of the table. Don’t put your glass there, move it in. I’ve told you this a million hundred times.”

In fact, if you say don’t run, kiddos’ brains actually hear, run. 

Next time is positive.

Next time is hopeful.

Next time is corrective, yet instructive.

Next time teaches appropriate behavior.

Next time is effective.

Next time is a simple reframe that softens the sting of what you are saying and paints a picture of what you’d like to see happen in the future.

Mistakes happen and shifting your tone from critical and irritated to helpful and instructive is really powerful. Next time opens the door to conversation about the cause and effect of actions. “Okay, this didn’t work out for you this time, why do you think that is? What could you do differently next time?”

Next time creates an atmosphere where you understand mistakes are part of life. Instead of fearing you – do this or … – your children can learn how and why choices are made.

You can use next time with your children, but also with yourself, your spouse, your friends, family, and co-workers. When you make a mistake or feel an emotion bubble that is unsettling because of someone’s actions, ask yourself, “What would I like to see happen next time?” Try to pause before reacting to take out the urgency and think about the future.

Next time, instead of getting upset he didn’t …, I’m going to make my wants known and clear. Next time, instead of reaching for the potato chips because I’m frustrated, I’m going to take a walk around the block or the kids to the park for fresh air.

What do you think? Would you try this next time? 







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