Sasha Brown of Community Family Care provides tips on managing children’s behaviour
It is important to give children the best opportunity to comply with what you want them to do. We can often phrase requests and instructions that are difficult for children to understand and in turn set them up to not do as we have asked. Children can often misbehave if we give them poor instructions that are either too vague, too many, or just unrealistic. We’ve put together a few simple tips on giving instructions that should help your child to understand what is expected of them.
Instructions are better understood by children if you keep them clear and concise. Be really specific about what you would like them to start/stop doing so that they understand what is expected of them. For example, instead of “stop being silly” say “stop pulling faces” and follow it up with what you would like them to start doing instead.
Fewer is better
Children are unable to remember a long list of instructions and will struggle to do as you’ve asked if they can only remember the first part. Remember to break your instructions down in to manageable chunks and be realistic about what your child is able to do given their developmental age.
Get close and gain attention
When giving your child an instruction remember to get close to them, about an arm’s length, get down to their level and gain their attention so you know they are listening to you. Gain eye contact if your child is comfortable with this and remain calm when giving the instruction.
Give your child time
Children need time to process what you’ve asked so give your child around five seconds to comply. If you are asking them to stop doing something ask only once. If you would like them to start doing something repeat your instruction once more. Remember to give lots of positive praise if your child does as you’ve asked.
If your child doesn’t comply with what you’ve asked them to do, back up your instructions with a consequence such as privilege removal or time out.
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