Why I Choose the Word ‘Could’ (instead of ‘Should’) – Part 2

Let’s try and change perspective when we deal with tantrums, difficulties or challenges. Both for ourselves and our children.

Often we find it easier to express understanding and compassion towards others, like adults or children that are not our own. “She did it because that was the best she could think of in that situation”. “He said so because he was just being impulsive”.mother child pic

But what about showing that same understanding to our children and to ourselves? That same compassion towards ours and their own difficulties?

The word should means expectations and standards and it might easily remind us of pain, guilt, inadequacy.

The word should is an imposition from the outside, that we decide to take upon us (often out of bravery and good will, of course).

What happens when we replace ‘should’ with ‘could’?

Feelings of choice, free will, possibility and imagination ariseHope takes the place of blame and opportunity takes the place of failure.

Here are a couple of examples.

For our children:

  • “You should have shared your toy with your friend Alvin” is a blunt statement of disappointment.
  • “You could have shared your toy with your friend Alvin, it would have been so much more fun to play together”, on the other hand, says that if the child had decided to share the toy, new possibilities would arise. And she can do it next time! Could allows her to learn from the situation instead of beating her down.

and for us:

  • “I should eat healthy food” implies that I am yet not able to do it right now. Statement of failure.
  • “I could eat healthier” gives me the clear mental option to do so, if I choose it.

When we are gentler with ourselves and our children and decide to use the word ‘could’ instead of ‘should’, we are in charge of our expectations and our strength comes from inside.


Perfectionism is a subtle enemy that we were raised to believe an instrument of success.

“No pain no gain”. “You should try harder”. This is the kind of harsh words we heard since childhood.

But it doesn’t need to be this way.

We can start using could instead of should and see what miraculous shift happens.

Love yourself. And your children.

I hope this helps you towards a humane, non-punitive way out of tantrums and self-loathing.

How do you deal with tantrums, frustrations and challenges? Have you got your back – and your children’s back – 100% when it comes to disappointments? Please share below your thoughts, I would love to hear your view on this topic.

Hope this serves you and your child.

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