The importance of Following Instruction
What parent hasn’t been there. You ask your child to do something. Then you ask again and again and again. By the tenth time you’re frustrated. It’s at this point that your child finally does what you ask only to complain, “You didn’t have to raise your voice” as they do it. At which point you want to smack your head against the wall because you didn’t raise your voice the first nine time. Then you panic. Are you turning into that family where the only way to get your kids to do what you want is to raise your voice. Is this what you mom meant when she said you’d get kids just like you? It is. Mom, I’m sorry.
Whether we are one or 100, most of our life is going to be spent following instructions. There’s instructions for registering to vote, buying groceries, or doing a project for a work. Knowing what those instructions are, and following them, makes being an adult a lot easier.
The same goes for your children. The sooner your children learn how to follow instructions, hopefully without complaint, the sooner their life improves. Following Instructions has the benefit of improving your life as well. Just think about it. You’ll be spending a lot less time yelling or nagging your kids and they’ll like you more for it. If you no longer have to spend hours getting your child to clean their room, or do their homework, or practice the piano, what can you do with that time? A craft project with your kids. An hour reading a book. Or, the luxury every parent dreams of, a well deserved nap.
The skill of Following Instructions is actually simple. The difficult part for most families is just making the it a habit. We have 3 suggestions that are going to help with making Following Instructions a habit in your family.
First, start with something simple that you know your child can do.
Second, practice it until your child has it and doesn’t need to be reminded the steps of the skill.
Third, only move onto something new after they’ve mastered it.
The skill of Following Instructions has four steps.
Step 1. Get your child’s attention
Step 2. Give a simple, clear, descriptive instruction.
Step 3. Child says “ok,” and immediately does the task.
Step 4. Child returns to the parent and reports when that the task is finish.
Download the Steps of Following Instructions and place on your fridge for easy reference.
Parents get tripped up on Step 2. Instead of giving one simple, clear instruction we give multiple commands that are either complicated or don’t provide enough information. Have you ever told your child, “I need you to do your homework, clean the family room, and gather the library books.” That’s a lot of information for a child to process at once. Are they to do their chores first or their homework? Are the cleaning the family room or picking up all the toys? Are they gathering all the library books or only theirs?
Rather, it’s be better to break all those task up and give clear instructions for each.” I need you to do your homework,” becomes “Tina, before dinner, I need you to finish your reading homework.”
“Clean the family room,” becomes “clean the family room by picking up all the toys and vacuuming.”
“Gather the library books,” becomes “find all your library books and place them by the front door.”
You’re still telling your kids the same information, you’re just make it more likely that they will actually do it!
Once you and your family starts using the skill of Following Instructions you’ll be surprised at how much it improves family life.