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5 Mistakes Parents Make When Giving Kids Directions

By Amy Morin

Whether your child responds to your directions by saying, “In a minute!” or he ignores your commands completely, dealing with a child who doesn’t follow directions can be frustrating. Some parents respond by doing the task themselves, while others resort to yelling or nagging in an effort to gain compliance.

If your child doesn’t follow your instructions the first time you speak, examine the way you’re giving directions. These common mistakes can decrease the chances that your child will listen:

 1. You Give Too Many Commands

You likely give your child hundreds of commands each day, ranging from “Pick up your socks,” to “Stop banging your fork on the table.” If your child misbehaves often, it’s likely he receives many more commands than other children.

Bombarding your child with nitpicky instructions like, “Color inside the lines,” and “Pull your socks up,” will cause your child to tune you out. Your voice will become like background noise if you’re constantly offering advice and warnings about things that aren’t all that important.

Only give the most important instructions. Avoid giving the extra commands that are simply based on your preferred way of doing things – rather than the way your child must do something. While it can feel uncomfortable to watch your child do things his own way, overparenting your child can have serious consequences.

 2. You Give Weak Directions

The words you choose when you give commands are really important. Saying things like, “Will you please go brush your teeth now?” implies the task is optional. So does saying things like, “Pick up your toys now, OK?” These types of commands make you sound less authoritative.
Give directions with authority. Make your command clear and avoid phrasing your instructions like you’re asking your neighbor for a favor. Instead, give directions like the authority figure you are by using a calm but firm demeanor.


3. You Repeat Your Instructions

Nagging will actually train your child that he doesn’t have to listen the first time you speak. Instead, he’ll recognize that you tend to repeat your instructions several times and he’ll realize there’s no incentive to listen the first time.
Rather than saying, “I’ve told you five times to shut off that video game!” only give a command once. Then, follow through with an if…then warning. Don’t allow your...(click here to continue reading)

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