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Tweet of the Week #133: Japanese Nurseries Encourage Positivity

How do nursery schools in Japan speak to children?

By 2 min read

With children, positive reinforcement works better than negativity. Positive statements encourage good behavior and work ethic, which makes it less stressful for teachers.

At Japanese nursery schools, teachers are trained to speak in a positive light. Instead of giving orders, they offer “suggestions” to foster social development and independence in children.

The official account for Mamari, an app for expecting parents, shared a few examples of how language can direct a child’s attention.

Positive rewording



“Positive rewording often used by nursery school teachers.”

Negative to positive

The first slide shows how to turn negative orders into positive commands:

Negative – Japanese English Positive – Japanese English
はしらないで」 Don’t run あるいて」 Walk
たないで」 Don’t stand すわってて」 Sit
「こぼさないで」 Don’t spill [your cup] 両手りょうてもちって」 Carry [your cup] with both hands
のぼらないで」 Don’t climb りようね」 Go down
はなさないで」 Don’t let go of my hand にぎってて」 Hold my hand
「よそしないで」 Don’t look away 「OOのほうを見て」 Look at OO

Tantrum defense

The next slides introduce more examples parents can use to encourage children without tears or tantrums!

Negative – Japanese English Positive – Japanese English
「そっちいかないで」 Don’t go this way 「このOOにいて」 Go to [OO]
はやくして」 Do fast 10じゅうかぞえるまでにして」or
Do within 10 counts
Before the clock hand reach OO
ゆかかないで」 Don’t leave [your toy etc.] on the floor 「このテーブルのうえに置いて」 Put [your toy, etc.] on the top of this table
Don’t speak too loudly
Don’t make a scene
[Speak] quietly
[Speak] gently
[Speak] with an ant’s voice

Negative – Japanese English Positive – Japanese English
「おしゃべりしないで」 Don’t speak 「おくちチャックままでいてね」 Go with your lips zipped
「(片付かたづけけで)、げないで」 ([When] cleaning) Don’t throw 「そっと仕舞しまいって」
Close gently
Put down gently
たたかないで」 Don’t hit 「お口でおはなしして」 Use your mouth, speak
づかないで」 Don’t get close 「OOのところにいて」 Go to OO

Your turn!

Te o nigittete.

Paraphrase and playing with opposite ideas is a great way to get your Japanese flow more naturally. In particular, it will improve your vocabulary as you search for synonyms and antonyms.

By playing with word orders and expressions, you will gain a better understanding of the grammar, too.


Japanese Romaji English
保育士ほいくし hoikushi Nursery school teacher
よく yoku Frequently, a lot
使つか tsukau Use
肯定こうてい koutei Positive, affirmation
言葉ことば iikaekotoba Paraphrase

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