How to get your kids to follow your instructions…

Have you ever walked into your child’s room after you specifically asked them to clean it up and found it looking like they’d invited a Rhino to tea instead? Why is it that we ask and ask and ask for something to get done and it doesn’t seem to happen? Or if it does, it is far from our expectations of how it should have been done.

As I always say to parents, if you’re having some problem with your child, first stop and see if there is something that you need to be doing differently. And what most parents will find in the above scenario is that they are not being clear enough about what they want. Little children particularly need clear instructions in small chunks. Saying something like “Clean up your room” is far too general and can even create a feeling of being overwhelmed and confused resulting in nothing at all being done. If you have a certain expectation, then you, as the adult, need to make this very clear and break it up into instructions that your child can understand and easily accomplish.

So, “clean up your room” might better be expressed by saying, “OK, firstly I want you to pick up all the books on your bed and put them back in the bookshelf. Now I want you to put the teddy bears back in their box. Now take all the crayons and pack them in the pencil case. Now put the pencil case in your bag for tomorrow. Now take your dirty clothes to the wash basket … ” Can you see that what seems to be a simple task of “cleaning up your room” is in fact multiple, and fairly complex, tasks put together?

The trick is to be very specific and very clear about what you want and to break it up into manageable chunks. Or in other words, KISS: Keep It Simple Supermom!

Image – Gallo