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Why Be Careful Isn't Effective & What to Say Instead

July 7, 2023

BE CAREFUL BE CAREFUL  BEEEEE CAAAARRREEEFFUUUULLLL we all have probably bellowed from across the park or really anywhere they may hurt themselves.  

We were fishing yesterday and my daughter ran ahead on a swaying dock . Induce mom panic as I didn't feel like going swimming that day. I yelled "BE CAREFUL" It was like I was talking to a brick wall.

I then yelled after her "watch where you are moving each foot". She slowed down and began being much more mindful of where she was putting her feet

Morale of the story, saying be careful is something that literally just comes out of our mouths (like it did with me) but it just isn't effective.

Here are the reasons below :)

  1. They likely have no idea what you are referring to: "Be careful" is a vague statement that doesn't provide clear guidance on what specific actions or behaviors are expected. Children may not fully understand what they need to be careful about or what potential dangers they should be aware of.
  2. Overuse and desensitization: If parents or caregivers repeatedly use the phrase "be careful" without providing additional context or guidance, it will likely feel like you are talking to a brick wall.
  3. Insufficient information: Children often need a more detailed explanation of potential hazards and how to navigate them safely. Simply telling them to be careful doesn't provide the necessary information for them to make informed decisions or take appropriate precautions.
  4. Lack of experience and risk assessment: Young children, especially, may not have developed a comprehensive understanding of risk and may struggle to accurately assess dangerous situations. Telling them to be careful may not be effective if they don't fully grasp the potential consequences of their actions
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