Friday, August 10, 2012


My friend Ginny Case wrote this on Facebook today:
I often wonder why people say "don't forget" rather than say "remember."  Remember is more positive!  Some psychologists say that the negative like "don't run" plants the suggestion to run ... especially in children.
I commented:
Ginny, this is interesting. I'll have to "remember" to be positive!
I'm surprised that, as a word person, I had not noticed this before.  The negative version of it must really be ingrained in me (and maybe our culture).
"Don't forget to buy bread on your way home."
"Don't forget to turn out the light."
"Don't forget......."
While writing this, I went back to Ginny's post, and discovered she had added:
I read that when we say "I can't remember" or "I forgot" that we program our brains to not remember. Rather we might say "I will remember." This might especially help us older folks who are often accused of forgetting more.
I responded:
 Wow, this is also interesting.  So let me restate my previous comment even more positively:  "I will remember to be positive!"
Ginny, ending the conversation, clicked "like" on what I just said.  Tell me I'm not the only one — besides Ginny — who likes thinking about the way we use language.

(I posted this on my word blog this morning.)


Helen's Book Blog said...

I took a really great parenting class when my daughter was quite young. One of their biggest lessons was do not use the word "don't." In other words, we say "don't run" and kids hear "run". We should tell them what we want them to do rather than what we don't want them to do. So, we should say "walk" instead.

I know use this in my teaching. My favorite is my change from "don't type" to "keep your hands off the keyboards." SO much more effective and clear!

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Good one, Helen: "Keep your hands off the keyboards."

Ginnie said...

Thanks, Bonnie, I love words and how they are used and it's so easy to slip into the negative. This is a great reminder.