Giving Good Instructions to Children

Giving Good Instructions to Children

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ask Joe
Think “Dear Abby” for a new generation. Each newsletter I will select one or more questions to answer. So if you have a parenting or mental wellness question, please send it my way. I’m sure others have the same question and could benefit. joe@mentalwellnesscounseling.com

Dear Joe,
I have taken away my child’s TV, but I still see them watching it when I get home from work. I give consequences and they won’t do them, any strategies?
-Frustrated in Traverse City

Dear Frustrated,
There are several approaches that may work. Rather than take away TV time when you are not there, try and institute changes when you are available. For example, say your child rolls her eyes and says something to you that warrents a consequence. Say to them, “Because you rolled your eyes and did not accept my decision tonight you will not have TV. However, you can choose to clean the bathroom as your consequence instead.” By giving them a choice, they are more likely to follow through.

If you have not been consistent in the past, your child will not expect you to follow through. Often times, parents feel they need to justify or convince their children. However, your actions of giving positive and negative consequences will speak much louder than anything you say. By building your skills and consistency, you are showing your child that you are someone they can trust. Good parenting leads to feelings of security and trust.
-Joe

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Giving Good Instructions to Children

From www.parenting.org
Author:

Deanne C. Haisch, M.A., LMHP

Does getting your child to do something feel like an impossible task? One of the reasons may be the way in which you are asking. Children are not necessarily receptive to the types of verbal instruction that we use with our spouse, colleagues or other adults. Instructions for children must be given in a way that they understand. Below are some helpful hints on how to give kids instructions that will make both you and your child more successful.

Get your child’s attention – Make sure that you have your child’s attention before you give a direction. You should be within three feet of your child so you can talk in a normal or calm voice. This helps your child know that you are talking to him/her. You can get your child’s attention by calling his/her name, making eye contact, or turning off the lights.

  • Be clear and concise – Instructions should be short and to the point. The fewer words the better. A good guide is one word per year of life. (ex. Instruction for a two-year-old might be “shoes on”; where a five-year-old might be “go get your shoes on”). If there are too many words, it becomes more difficult for the child to know what is expected. The instruction should also be free of vague words.
  • Give one instruction at a time – Do not give your child a long list of instructions. When you give more than one instruction at one time, your child may forget, not understand, or feel overwhelmed.
  • Be realistic – Give your child instructions that you know he/she can follow. For example, do not expect a 3-year-old to get completely dressed by him/herself.
  • Be positive – Let your child know what you want them to do rather than not to do. When we only describe the negative behavior “don’t run” we still leave many other options available (skipping, hopping, etc.). Telling the child what we want them to do “walk, please.” Does not allow for any other options.
  • Don’t ask, tell – Do not ask your child to do something. Instead, tell your child in a firm but pleasant voice what you want them to do. Do not say “will you go brush your teeth?” To the child this implies that they have a choice. Instead, say “go brush your teeth.”
  • Reward compliance – let your child know that he/she did a good job following the instruction. Praise your child. The more you praise your child the better the chances that he/she will follow directions in the future.

Examples of Good Instructions:

  • John, give me the truck.
  • Lindsey, go wash your hands.
  • Dylan, look at the book.
  • Taylor, put three blocks in the bucket.
  • Jessie, walk next to me.

Resources
Learn about kids and sleep:
http://www.sleepforkids.org/
http://kidshealth.org/kid/stay_healthy/body/not_tired.html

That’s it for now. Do good to others and keep in touch!

-Joe

 

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a counselor, therapist, psychologist, and overall helper of people in Traverse City, MI. He has professional experience working with Community Mental Health, residential facilities, foster care, and private practice. As well, he is the author of the book “Practice of the Practice: Basics for Launching Your Private Practice” due to be released in June 2012. He is a frequent speaker and writer locally in Traverse City, Michigan, and nationally.

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