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Can You Spot The Mistake In This PBIS Rule Poster?


Read 15 Tips for designing PBIS rules posters – click here.

PBIS Poster Mistake
The poster on the left uses an “invisible” word – the word “not.” Even though it’s abbreviated, this word still does considerable damage. Here’s how: Humans think in terms of pictures. When you read “Wash your hands,” you get a picture of it in your mind. When you read “Do not forget to wash your hands,” your mind’s eye jumps over the word “not” because there is not a picture associated with it. However we all know what “forgetting” looks like, so your mind quickly paints a picture of forgetting to wash your hands. It’s a mental picture of walking out of the restroom without washing one’s hands.

The other problem with this poster is that it instructs in a negative fashion, whereas the poster on the right instructs with a positive message. PBIS rules posters should always state behavior expectations in a positive manner.

Consider the mental pictures created when you read the following statements:

Don’t scream… vs. Be quiet.
Don’t fidget… vs. Sit still
Don’t bully others… vs. Be kind to others
Don’t make a mess… vs. Throw your trash away
Don’t fight over toys… vs. Share toys and take turns


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