Every parent has experienced moments of complete frustration because a child did not comply with our directions.
It may not entirely be their fault. It might, partially, be our fault too. During Springer School and Center’s program for parents on Developing Executive Function Skills at Home we spend some time on the art of gaining compliance from our children when giving commands.
In general, good commands are direct, stated positively, involve one step and are specific. Commands don’t include explanations at the end. For example, “Dinner is in 5 minutes Pause the video game.” The command Includes a brief explanation at the beginning followed by the command. It is short and specific. Here is what might also happen.
Adult: “Dinner is in 5 minutes Pause the video game.”
Child: "I’m not hungry.”
Adult: Ignore the comment or say, “See you in 5 minutes.”
Another scenario: You are at someone’s house and your child approaches an open cabinet with China figurines. You know what is about to happen. The adult can say, “Come sit by me.” Rather than, “Don’t touch that or you’ll break something!!”
You will be more successful if you tell the child what to do by wording the command in a positive way and using a neutral tone of voice. Your child is running on the sidewalk. You say, “Walk!” Avoid words like: Quit. No. Don’t. Stop. Commands are stated to reflect what we want the child to do. “Walk in the hallway.” Rather than, “Don’t run!”
Commands are direct. “Please sit here,” rather than indirect, “Would you like to sit here?”
Be specific, give one direction at a time. “Hang up your coat.” Rather than, “Hang up your coat, put your shoes away and empty your backpack” After you give the “hang up your coat” direction, then direct them to put their shoes in the closet. When the shoes are put away, then then give the direction to empty their backpack”.
Other examples of poor directions:
"Be careful crossing the street."
Try: “Look both ways before crossing the street.”
I think it is time for you to do your homework.
Better: “It is 5 pm, time for you to do your homework.”
Try: “Use your indoor voice.”
"Stop goofing around."
Try: “Time to sit down and start your homework.”.
How to Handle Lying
If you know your child did not do something, such as washing their hands before dinner, don’t ask if they washed their hands. Simply tell them, “Go to the sink and wash your hands.” Use a neutral, business like tone. Do not try to catch your child in a lie.
Sometimes you may need to change the location for an activity to better supervise the task. For example, if you know you child is not brushing their teeth before school, change the location for brushing teeth in the morning to the kitchen sink or the closest bathroom.
Our next session for parents will be on April 26, 2023, 6:30 to 8:00 pm ADHD and Executive Function: Implementing Positive Strategies at Home and School.
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