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This is truncated from the HSK6 Standard Course workbook (page 17; photo of original; OCR via Yandex):

面对青春期的孩子,父母要格外关爱他们。青春期正是孩子形成主见的关键时期, 父母要包容孩子,不要过分约束他们,不要总认为自己讲的话是对的,孩子是错的,不 要什么都自己说了算,不要用命令的口气对孩子说话,不要总是盯着孩子的缺点,要知 道,每个孩子都是有优点的,不要拿孩子的短处和别的孩子的优点比。父母要给孩子发 言权、自主权、时间支配权;同时,父母也要让孩子承担家中的事务,让孩子学会负责, 懂得担当。

  1. 面对青春期少年,父母应注意什么?
    A 不要批评孩子的缺点
    B 在孩子面前要少说话
    C 不要说“你应该……”
    D 家里的事要让孩子做主

The given answer is C without an explanation. I chose A because the text says:

不要总是盯着孩子的缺点 ... 不要拿孩子的短处和别的孩子的优点比

I'm unclear on how 不要说“你应该……” could be correct here. Presumably it doesn't literally mean parents shouldn't say sentences beginning 你应该, and I'm supposed to recognize some idiomatic usage.

Question: How should I understand 不要说“你应该……”?

5 Answers 5

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It does literally mean they shouldn't say sentences starting with "You should..."

The text talks about how children in puberty are forming their own opinions of things and how the parents should be tolerant of them. They shouldn't just shut the ideas of their child off by using imperative speech.

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面对青春期少年,父母应注意什么?
Regarding young adolescents, what should parents pay attention to?

A 不要批评孩子的缺点
shouldn't criticise children's failings
not mentioned
不要总是盯着孩子的缺点,
shouldn't concentrate on children's weak points

B 在孩子面前要少说话
shouldn't say much in front of the kids
not mentioned

D 家里的事要让孩子做主
in household matters should let the kids decide
not mentioned

C 不要说“你应该……”
shouldn't say "You should ... "
不要过分约束他们
不要总认为自己讲的话是对的,孩子是错的,
不要什么都自己说了算

It's tough being a parent!

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不要用命令的口气对孩子说话 is exactly 不要说“你应该……”. If a parent says 你应该如何做 to his child, then it is almost the same as 你必须如何做 (命令).

The article said that 不要总是盯着孩子的缺点 (Do not only look at your child’s weakness). It is different from option A 不要批评孩子的缺点 (do not criticize the wrongdoing of your child).

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  • Thanks! It seems 应该 is not the same as "should" in English. If you use "should" in English, it's just a suggestion.
    – Becky 李蓓
    Commented Feb 22 at 23:10
  • Yes, it is more like "you had better...." Commented Feb 23 at 7:14
  • This is a good example that a language is rooted in its culture of the society. The translation from Chinese to English can be different if consider the social relationship.
    – PdotWang
    Commented Feb 23 at 14:27
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  • 面对青春期的孩子,父母要格外关爱他们。青春期正是孩子形成主见的关键时期, 父母要包容孩子,不要过分约束他们,不要总认为自己讲的话是对的,孩子是错的,不要什么都自己说了算不要用命令的口气对孩子说话,不要总是盯着孩子的缺点,

“你应该……(You shall/should)” - is considered a phrase with a "restricted(约束)" or "dictate/commanding(命令,支配,主宰)" tone, it carries the (hidden) message - "My way is always right, yours is wrong!", and it defeats all the "Not to(不要)" advice offered above. Thus, "C" is the best choice among the answers.

Note the last advice - 不要总是盯着孩子的缺点(Do not always stare/look at the shortcomings of the kid). I don't think 盯着(stare at) = 批评(criticize), so the answer "A" is not a good match/choice.

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I think it can help to recognize that while 應該 can have a more nuetral recommended or sensible action meaning, it can also be defined as one's living purpose duty to do, or one's absolute must with no choice type meanings. So while it can be a nuetral statement, its also possible to feel very domineering, this way or no way etc.

案子牽涉到他的家人, 他應該避嫌。For example in this sentence, it is not a nuetral recommended action that he aught to not do a case involved with his family. It is a borderline admonishment that he absolutely shouldn't, as a duty, and that its no good at all to do otherwise and unacceptable etc etc. Well, exactly how serious a term 應該 is will come down to context case by case, but hope that example context helps.

An english example of a similar thing to what the example text you have is saying, would be a text telling you that its not good to say "calm down" to someone upset ((because while there is nothing with saying calm down in general, it can accidentally sound too domineering and dismissive compared to alternative better phrases)) Maybe this comparison can help a bit too (^ν^)

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