We've all seen kids do exactly the opposite of what we think we are asking them to do. Like when we say, “Don’t lean your chair back on two legs.” The next thing you know, sure enough, there he is balancing the chair on two legs.
Have you ever noticed that it seems like a child sometimes doesn't even hear the word DON'T when a grown-up says it? He only seems to hear what comes after the don't ... in other words, the rest of the sentence.
So, what did he actually hear?
When you say, Don't lean your chair back on two legs. He hears, “Lean your chair back on two legs.”
We grown-ups can learn to accept this as a kid's normal behaviour. Let's experiment. Let's try changing our behaviour to see what that does.
“Don’t sew with dirty hands.”
What does your child hear? Sometimes, it's “Sew with dirty hands.”
What can you do about it?
It follows that if you want clean hands, you need to try removing the word DON'T from your vocabulary.
Turn the words around and say, “Wash your hands.”
Or, “Put the needle through that loop.”