No running! Don't hit! After about a hundred times this really does get irritating, like a broken record. Not surprisingly children of all ages do seem to drone it out these rules near the end.
Rather than setting limits and rules in a negative context, positivity is a better option.
Phrasing limits in a positive way focuses on what to do, rather than what not to do. When parents and caregivers offer these positive statements, they reinforce for children what is appropriate, serve as desirable models of communication for children to imitate, and decrease the likelihood for children to respond with defensiveness or resistance.
In the older age groups, a discussion can be had about ‘rules’ for the classroom. This allows the children to be involved in the organization and everyday routine of their classroom. We recently sat with the JK/SKs to brainstorm appropriate behaviour in the classroom. Obviously, the first rules that came up with raised hands was no running; instead we jotted down, walking feet. Instead of writing down and listing the behaviours we want to avoid, we listed the behaviours and attitudes we encouraged in the class. For example, a simple rule of no interrupting to wait your turn.
For educators and parents, during the chaos of the day, it can be difficult to freeze for a few extra seconds before spewing out a direction children. But that few extra seconds, to stop, think and rearrange your words truly makes a difference. For the simple fact of, again, emphasizing and focusing on appropriate behaviours rather than constantly acknowledging inappropriate ones.