“Get yourself ready for school!”
“Clean your room!”
“Get ready for bed!”
Day after day, parents find themselves telling (or yelling) directions like these to their kids. Many times, day after day, kids don’t do what their parents ask.
Most kids aren’t trying to be bad or ignore their parents. A lot of times, kids don’t do what their parents ask because they don’t understand what their parents are asking them to do!
Help your kids do what you ask by following the three S’s:
Simple Make directions easy to follow. If they’re hard, kids get confused.
Short Keep directions short. When directions are too long, kids have a hard time listening.
Step-by-step Tell kids what to do in clear, step-by-step order.
Read these four examples of how you can make it easier for your child to understand and follow your directions (and make life easier for you!):
1. UNCLEAR DIRECTION: “Go clean your room!”
CLEARER DIRECTIONS: “Pick your clothes up off the floor, fold them, and put them in your dresser. Then make your bed and put all your toys in the toy basket.”
NOTICE: “A clean room” may mean something to you, but it may mean nothing to your child. By telling a child what steps to follow to get there, she knows exactly what you want.
2. UNCLEAR DIRECTION: “Go get ready for bed.”
CLEARER DIRECTIONS: “Put your pajamas on. Brush your teeth. Then go to the bathroom.”
NOTICE: “Ready” is one of those words that makes sense to a grown-up but doesn’t mean anything to a kid. So clearly explain what your child should do to get “ready.”
3. UNCLEAR DIRECTION: “Stop fooling around with your brother. Do your homework, now!”
CLEARER DIRECTION: “It looks like you’re having a hard time focusing on your homework. Come sit at the kitchen table, away from your brother, and finish your homework. Then when you’re done, the two of you will have time to play.”
NOTICE: Focus on what your child can do, instead of on what he should not do.
4. UNCLEAR DIRECTION: “Listen to me! Why don’t you ever pay attention to what I’m saying?”
CLEARER DIRECTION: “We’re going to leave the park in 10 minutes. You can play with your friends until then. I’ll warn you when there’s five minutes left, but when time’s up, we’re going to catch the bus and go home.”
NOTICE: By letting kids in on the plan ahead of time, you can avoid surprises that might upset them, and help them be ready to listen to your directions when you need them to.