— Podcast

Ep #129: Why you’re seeing increased negative behaviors


If you’re are seeing an increase in negative behaviors since the beginning of the pandemic, you are not alone.

The uncertainty and change in routine has been difficult for many families, and especially for children as they don’t know how to appropriately deal with all the changes happening around them.

Kids thrive on routines as those routines allow them to feel safe and in control while understanding the world around them. When routines are altered, and keep getting altered, they often don’t know how to process the changes.

Children act up because they’re feeling overwhelmed, worried, scared, sad, frustrated, stressed, etc. Understanding why they may act up allows parents to better address the root cause of what is causing their difficult behavior.

If you understand that they’re acting up because they’re feeling overwhelmed you can create daily opportunities for them to mediate or take a break. If online school is causing them frustration or stress, you can implement procedures to reduce those feelings. If they’re sad because they’re not seeing friends or missing out on things they love, you could create online or different opportunities for them.

The skill of Following Instructions allows a child to feel in control because they understand what is expected of them. Following Instructions is a skill parents can use on children of all ages–including teenagers.

Following Instructions is one of the first behaviors  skills we recommend parents teach because it provides such a framework for all the other behavior skill.

Following Instructions provides the following benefits for children.

They allow child to know exactly what they are supposed to do, which reduces stress and frustration for them.

It meets your child at their level by allowing parents to break down large instructions into small steps.

It gives your child confidence that they can accomplish tasks.
It allows you to focus on the good things your child is doing, ie completing a task, which shifts negative behavior sooner.

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Podcast Transcript

The transcript text is below. You can also download the PDF file of the transcript here.

This is Episode 129.

We welcome you to The ADHD Smarter Parenting Podcast. Here to heal and elevate lives is your Parenting Coach, Siope Kinikini.

Well, hello my friends, how are you? I’m glad you’re joining me. This is Siope. I’m your host here at the ADHD Smarter Parenting Podcast.

Today, we’re going to be talking about increased behaviors during the pandemic.

There’s been this wave of parents who are taking their children in to receive medication for the behaviors that they’re seeing at home with their children. And during the pandemic, we’ve been going through the pandemic now for about a year, it’s understandable. Everybody is restless. Everyone is tired. Everyone is trying to get life back to normal.

And so during this time, there have been a lot of stressors in families. A lot of things have been going on that have caused children to act out. To become reactive. And a lot of strain on parents and the expectations that they have to fulfill regarding raising a child in addition to being sure that they can work and provide for the family.

So, it’s a crazy time, and we’ve already completed a year of the pandemic. And while we are working through vaccines and are being able to protect ourselves, there are still issues about us getting back into the world. The way things were before the pandemic started.

I’m not a fortune teller. I do not know what’s going to happen, obviously. However, the wave of parents who have taken their children in for medication has increased over time, and it’s very understandable because of all of these stressors.

So, there are three specific things that I want to talk about with you in regards to these increased behaviors during the pandemic. And these are things that you can do at home to help your child and yourself through this whole process.

Now the three things that I want to talk about are all focused on helping your child learn how to follow simple instructions. So we’ll be talking about the skill of Following Instructions.

You can find the skill on the Smarter Parenting Website. I highly recommend you visit the website, watch the video. It’s only four or five minutes long. And the video explains to you how the steps look. There are only four steps. Super easy. And it teaches you what you need to say and how you need to interact with your child in teaching them how to Follow Instructions.

You will find that if you are able to have your child follow your instructions, that a lot of the tension and a lot of the stress that a lot of parents are feeling right now alleviates quite a bit. Because there’s greater cooperation, greater communication, and there’s better interaction and engagement with your child and with yourself. We’re going to be talking a lot about Following Instructions. But the three things that I want to go over, that will help you during this time are.

First, routines. So we’re going to talk about routines and about the flexibility of routines. I know that you had a routine before COVID and before the pandemic hit that was most likely pretty consistent. But we’re going to talk about what types of routines you can be established in your home right now to help your child.

The second thing is screen time. That has also been on an increase during the pandemic. Now there’s a good way to do screen time and there’s a poor way to do screen time. I will be giving you information on what you need to do as far as screen time goes for your child during the pandemic. Is screen time bad? No, it necessarily is not bad. And in fact, it can be very educational and helpful, but it does need to be focused, specifically with children with ADHD.

Now, the third thing is setting the tone in your home by working on parenting skills. You can get a lot of mileage out of the skill of Following Instructions. In fact, everything that you as a parent wants your child to learn can be encapsulated in this one skill of Following Instructions. Because if your child can follow your instructions, they are going to be more successful at doing a lot of tasks throughout their life. This goes for working with other people, going to school, going to college, having a boss.

We all have to follow instructions when we are working with the police if we get pulled over—Following Instructions appropriately and respectfully. This is a skill that you can use for the rest of your life. And it’s a skill that if you can teach your child, by using the steps from the Teaching-Family Model, your child is going to be more successful. It’s also going to decrease the stress that you feel within your home.

So those are the three areas and the skill that we’re going to be talking about. Routines and the flexibility. Screen time, what is appropriate, and what you can do to make it more appropriate. And setting the tone. And we’re all encapsulating this in the parenting skill of Following Instructions.

I love Following Instructions. In fact, it’s one of the very first skills that I teach children and parents when I work with them. Because if we can get the child to Follow Instructions appropriately, everything else falls into place. We’re able to teach them more complex things because they have grasped this concept of Following Instructions.

I’m super excited to share all this information with you. We’re going to talk about routines first. So I want you to understand that before COVID hit, there were routines. We had a routine. Your routine most likely consisted of you waking up and getting the kids up. Getting ready then taking the kids to school. Going to work. Picking them up afterward. And depending on the age, extracurricular activities afterwards, coming home, having dinner, going to bed, and then doing that on repeat Monday through Friday, until Saturday. And then you have family time, Saturday and Sunday. So that most likely that’s a pretty typical schedule for a lot of families.

However, with the pandemic and the shutdown, you don’t have those options. School is taken out of the equation. Sports, for the most part have been taken out of the equation. Extracurricular activities, depending on what they were, were taken out of the equation. I’ve had a lot of parents with kids that were involved with drama or productions or involved with just various activities or extracurricular activities that they no longer could do. And so they were home for all of this time.

So the routine was thrown out the window, everyone was told to stay at home. And the nuance of having something new. At the beginning of the pandemic. Yeah, it was great. We’re spending a lot of time as a family. But as this prolonged from weeks to months and then months to additional months and now we’re at a year, it’s been difficult to maintain that enthusiasm that we initially had.

In fact, I’ve had a lot of parents report that when the pandemic started and everyone was at home, that things were actually going well. Because parents felt, “Hey, we’re stepping away from that routine and now we can spend time as a family being together. And that’s a great thing.” However, as it prolonged, it became more and more difficult.

The routines have changed. And you may be working off a different routine right now. Now, some schools around the country and around the world have opened up and kids are going to school. And so some of the routines have come back into play.

This is still applicable to you, though. So when we’re talking about routines, it’s important for you as a parent, to establish a routine wherever you are. And in whatever stage of the pandemic you are living in. That means you have to take stock of what is happening in your home. What are the things that you feel are most essential? And I want you to write them down on a list.

What are the things that are most valuable that you want your child to be able to do during the day? Right? Every day for a week. When you write this list down, you have to also decide what belongs at the top of that list. What are the most important things that your child needs to accomplish for the day?

Now with children who struggle, who have emotional issues, ADHD, you’re going to have to assess, “Okay, I feel it’s important that my child does his schoolwork.” Right? “This is number one. Today, I want them to do their schoolwork.” So, while you’re thinking about that, you have to also take into account how that fits in with the routine of the family and the routine of your child and make it flexible for your own family’s needs.

There’s not going to be one way to do this. And I want to stress that. There are some parents who do school very early in the morning and they set that as the routine for their family. There are other families that decide to wait and do school later in the afternoon. And that works for their families.

I hear parents who are doing it in sections. They’ll start off and do an hour here, take a break. Do something else, come back to schoolwork, and they’ll put it in between the days. Or during the day, they’ll actually do schoolwork, take a break, do a little more schoolwork, do a break.

I found that with most children who struggle with ADHD, setting a routine like that is better for them where they can work on a project and then take a break. And then work on a project and take a break. So setting up a routine is going to be essential.

Now while you’re setting up the routine, you have to teach your child the skill of Following Instructions because you want your child to be able to move from one part of the routine to the next part of the routine without difficulty.

So let me give you an example. When we’re looking at the steps of Following Instructions, there are only four steps.

First step, get your child’s attention.

Second step, give a simple, clear, descriptive instruction.

Step number three, the child says, “Okay,” and immediately follows the instruction.

Step number four, the child returns to the parent and reports when it’s finished.

So, get the child’s attention by calling their name. Let’s say that I had a child whose name was Wyatt and I was working with Wyatt. I would say, “Wyatt.” And I would be sure that we’re looking at each other. We’re paying attention to each other. We need to be able to sense the idea that the child knows that you’re speaking to them and that you’re giving them very specific information at this time.

Whether that’s getting down at eye level with them. Being able to raise your voice in a way that they understand that you’re communicating directly to them, or just being right next to them. They need to know you’re speaking to them. Okay? Step number one.

Step number two, give a simple, clear, descriptive instruction. So you’d say, “We’re going to grab our notebook and our pencil from the desk, sit down and we’re going to write our name on there. On the first page.” So those are multiple steps. And I’m assuming Wyatt is a teenager at this point. But I’ve given simple, clear, descriptive instructions. Very clear, very descriptive. “We are going to grab our pen. We’re going to grab our notebook. We’re going to sit at the table. We’re going to write our name.” Okay?

Now for a younger child, it may be even simpler than that. “You need to grab your pen and your paper and sit at the table.” Okay? Very clear. Now for a child with ADHD that may be jumping off the wall, you can even make it simpler than that. “I need you right now to go grab your pen.” And then you would move on to the next one. Okay? Now the second step is the child says, “Okay,” and immediately follows the instructions.

Here is a key to this skill. You have to ask them to do something that they can do right at that moment. Do not ask them to do something that you expect them to do clear in the future. Because they’re going to forget. When you’re giving instruction, it has to be an instruction that they are going to do right at that moment. Now they’re to look at you, acknowledge and say, “Okay,” and then go do it. Go do it, exactly what you’re asking. And once they do it, they come back.

Step number four is they return and they report. So they return to the parent, they report, “Okay, I’m done. I’ve grabbed my pencil. Okay, I’ve grabbed my pencil, my book and I’m sitting down. Okay, I’ve grabbed my pencil, my book, I’ve sat down and I’ve written my name in the book.”

So that’s an example of how you would set this whole situation up by using the skill of Following Instructions. Now, the reason that this ties into routines is that you will be giving instructions throughout the routine of your family, throughout the day because your child is with you.

It’s important for you as a parent to outline what are the things that we need to do today. And then what things am I going to give instructions for, to help guide my child along this process? This is all part of the routines. Because as you start to roll out the routine with your child, you are going to be asking them to do things. To follow your instructions until this routine becomes normal for them. Okay? So it is a very, very essential skill for you to be able to master and to use as you establish routines with your child.

Now we’re going to move on to screen times. Talking about screen times, Following Instructions and also setting the tone for what is happening in your home. So we talked about routines, and we talked about being able to give your child an instruction. Having them follow through. I asked you to make a list of the things that you want your child to accomplish. Make the list doable for your child for the day. And then it’s relatable to multiple days throughout the week. So you can set up a routine. If it’s schoolwork, “Okay, I want my child to focus on schoolwork at a certain time.” Great, set up the routine. Be sure that it’s flexible, because things happen. There are appointments as well that you need to do. But you want to make it as structured as possible.

Kids flourish under a structure. Structure gives them a sense of security. It gives them a sense of self. And in a way, you’re doing a lot of alleviating some of the element of the unknown in your child’s life. You’re getting rid of that. And you’re also establishing expectations for your child and for yourself as a parent. That’s important as well.

You want to be able to establish those things for you and your child. You’re going to notice that as you start to establish this, things will start to calm down. Because your child will be able to function inside a structure or a routine. And they can do so by you also giving them instructions.

Now, Following Instructions, of course, is one of the very first skills that I love to teach families and I love children to learn. Here is the word of advice for you in using this skill. You have to practice this skill. You have to practice this skill with your child.

My suggestion would be that you write all this out, you establish the routine for the day and then the day before, you practice this with your child. So you would say the day before, “Okay, tomorrow, we’re going to be starting this schedule. We’re going to do this at school work at 9:00. Now I’m going to ask you to do some very specific things. But we need to practice them because I need to be sure that you understand what I’m asking you to do.”

So you would walk through the whole process of the routine the day before. Okay? The day before. And you want to do it multiple times throughout the day. So you as a parent would say, “Okay, so let’s practice this.”

Now you want to be sure your child is in a calm state where they’re able to work with you. And you want to make this, depending on your child, as simple for them to understand as possible. And it doesn’t need to be an hour long. You don’t need to practice these things like that. Consistency in being able to do it. And also consistency in repeating your practice is going to be more effective than sitting down with your child for an hour and lecturing them about how to do this. You don’t want to do that. Okay? So little by little.

If I were doing this, as a parent, I would sit down with my child the day before. I would teach them this in the morning. And go through my list of things. “We’re going to do school at 9:00. So let’s practice what that’s going to be like. I’m going to come to you. I’ll call your name, give an instruction, grab your book and your pencil. You are going to say “Okay.” And then come back and report. But let me show you first how to do that.” So then you as a parent would demonstrate it. So they could get multiple ways of understanding it.

So we’re teaching them through visual. We’re teaching them through auditory and then through kinetic. So they are moving around. We’re actually modeling what they need to do, by pretending that you are the child and they’re giving you the instruction first. And then you’re going to turn it over to them so they can understand it and do it themselves. And then it starts to build up this muscle memory. Right? Muscle memory in the children. We would practice that in the morning. I would practice it again later in the evening. And I would practice it at right before bed.

The reason that I would do it three times throughout the day. And I’d be sure that they were able to follow through every time perfectly. At least three times every time we practice. Is because I am creating this muscle memory in their mind that when the day comes the next day when I start presenting these things, it’s automatic. They’re, “I’ve done this before. My body has done this before. This sounds familiar. I know exactly what I need to do.” And there are no surprises. So again, this is working through that whole routine.

Now in your routine, we’re going to move on to the second point, which is more screen time. The suggestion I have for you is that screen time is not a bad thing. In fact, you as a parent may be working from home as well or you have other things you need to do. But having your children with you makes it difficult to juggle so many things. So a lot of parents are turning to screen time. It’s not necessarily bad. Here’s where it becomes bad. Is when it’s not educational and it is just wasting time.

So you can waste a lot of time on the screen. What the recommendation is, is that you are finding ways that they can engage with screen time that is more social. So, find social ways for them to interact with other people, family members, etcetera.

Now, you can do this in a wide variety of ways. And there are fun games that you can play that children can play with another child in their class together online. Play chess or something that is social. We want to focus that time on social rather than passive. We don’t want our children to be passive consumers during the screen time that they have. Can they be passive later on during free time? Absolutely.

But if you are going to allot time for them to use the screen, be more selective and look for ways that they can engage socially with other people. Can they call a family member? Can they call a friend and talk to them and check on their day? So you want it to be social.

You also want it to be educational, if possible. But the social aspect of it is going to be essential because finding a way to connect with other people is a healthy way to help your children develop. And because of the limitations of the pandemic and being quarantined or being shut out, you want to be able to expand their ability to be social. By having them use technology, we have to be social.

So when you’re writing down your routine, and you’re establishing that. And you’re practicing what they need to do throughout the day, also put in some time for screen time if you need to put that in there. And then have them use that time as a way to be social with other people.

Now, when I’m saying this, I want you to also be cautious that they’re not being social with strangers. They need to connect with somebody they know already, that you know, and they need to know that you are monitoring their activity online. So it should be with trusted friends, trusted family, trusted neighbors, trusted church community. Whoever it may be, these are trusted people that they can socially interact with. More likely, another child would be better. Their age, that way they can talk about things and engage and so forth.

But again, you need to be monitoring their screen time. It’s important for you to monitor how much time they’re spending where and what. And there are a lot of apps that can help you manage that as well. So how much time they’re on their screen. Okay?

So don’t feel guilty about using screen time. Okay? Do not feel guilty about using screen time as a way to help your child throughout the day. It can sometimes be a lifesaver for a lot of parents.

Now, you’re going to be using Following Instructions during this time as well. So you need to teach your child how to follow the instruction to stop using electronics because you can’t have them using electronics for the entire day.

So the way that this would work is I would get attention from my child. I give a simple clear, descriptive instruction. The child would say, “Okay,” and follow through with the instruction immediately. And then report to you that they’ve done it.

If I had my child Wyatt again, this is what it would sound like. I would say, “Okay, Wyatt, we’re going to practice you giving me the iPad when I ask you to give me the iPad. So you’re going to be following the instructions. So I’m going to say your name, ‘I’ll say Wyatt.’ Now be sure that you’re looking at me, so we know that I’m talking to you. And then I’m simply going to say, ‘I need you to give me the iPad.’ That’s all I’m going to say.”

So that’s a simple, clear, descriptive instruction. “Step number three, you’re just going to say, ‘Okay,’ and you’re going to give it to me.”

And then step number four, the child reports, “Okay, I gave you the iPad.” So then, after explaining what the steps are, I would say to Wyatt, “Wyatt, we’re going to practice this together.

Now you’re going to be me and I’m going to be you. I need you to ask me for the iPad. I’ll show you exactly how you should do this.” So again, you are modeling for your child what they need to do. So your child would say, “Dad, I need you to give me the iPad.” “Okay, here’s the iPad. I’m done.” That’s great. Then we would switch places again so he could be Wyatt and I could be myself, and I would practice this with him. Okay?

“Wyatt, I need you to give me the iPad.”

“Okay, here’s the iPad, dad.”

“Hey, great job, thank you.”

And I would practice this at least three times. So he was able to do this consistently, without any struggles. And it became part of his muscle memory in the behaviors.

Now, when I’m doing this specifically for something like screen time, which can be a touchy subject, I want to use the exact same wording every time. The reason being is if you can use the exact same wording, there’s a connection that is made with the way you communicate and the words that you use, that will be far more effective in your interaction. If you are consistent that way.

I would practice this with my child three times throughout the day, the day before we started, in order to get them used to this idea. Now, as you noticed, it doesn’t take very long to do this. What you’re doing is you’re just building up the muscle memory. You’re starting to stretch that brain activity, getting your child into a place where it becomes recognizable. And then, as the day progresses the next day, then you can have them follow the instructions.

This is what I would do with screen time. Again, focus on making it social. And then teach them how to give up the electronic device when you ask them to give up the electronic device.

Now when you establish the routine, you want to be sure they also understand they only have an hour on the iPad. You want to say, “Okay, from 3:00 to 4:00, you have time to play on the iPad. But we’re going to structure it around some social activities. But after that hour, you have to give it back to me like we practiced.”

You want to set up those expectations. What you’re doing basically is you’re drawing a roadmap through all of this practice. So when the time comes that they have to make a choice, they know where they expect you to be. They know where they are expected to be. And it’s easier to make a better choice, rather than argue with you about it. Okay?

So you’re laying a foundation of a roadmap for your child to guide them throughout the routine process the next day. So practice that with your child multiple times. Again, I would do it in the morning, in the afternoon before dinner, and I would do it right before bed. Practice it until they get it perfect. And then, the next day, we would start to implement it.

I wouldn’t surprise them either. I would say to them, “Hey, we practiced this yesterday. I’m going to ask you to do it today. I’m just reminding you, let’s see how well you do.” No surprise here. We want to make it as predictable as possible for the kids. Okay? And so that’s what we would do. And we would work on this routine and more screen time to help decrease the behaviors during this pandemic. We’re decreasing the behaviors, the negative behaviors that are happening, that are on the rise during this pandemic.

Okay, so let’s talk about setting the tone. So setting the tone is very important for you as a parent. You, as a parent, are teaching your children in your interactions how to deal with stress and how to manage difficulty or disappointment. So the way that you interact with these difficult emotions during this time is actually giving permission to your child to behave the same way. They will do what they see you do. So be very cautious and careful about the tone that you set. Okay?

You want to be able to recharge your batteries as much as you can. And I know that’s a very difficult thing to hear for a lot of parents because they feel like they’re running like the Energizer Bunny. But they’re running low on battery life. And yet, all the expectations keep flying in their faces. But you do need to take some time out.

I will share this. Last week, I had a cousin pass away. He’s a younger cousin than me. But we’re close in age and we were really good friends growing up. He taught me a lot. Very, very funny, outgoing. It was a hard day when I heard that he passed away. He passed away from a heart attack. e leaves behind his wife and children.

So when I received the news, it was the straw that broke everything on the camel’s back for me. Because I had been going, going, going, trying to get a lot of things taken care of and done working with my own child with the things that are happening there. There was work. There was extended family—just so many expectations as a parent. And I had to take a breath,, and I just let everybody know I need a day. I need a day to process this. And could I afford to take that day? No, not really. There were a lot of things that were still expected of me. But I knew that if I continued to go, I would completely burn out.

And so, I said, “I’m sorry, I apologize.” And called up the people I needed to speak with. I even posted on social media. “I needed a day. And I’m just checking out for now so I can regroup, and I can build up my own energy.” And it was important for me because I do set the tone.

When my child comes home from her school, she is looking for me to set the tone in the home in the way that she interacts. She comes in, and she says, “Hello.” And it’s interesting because she will say, “Hello?” in the way that you ask a question. Almost as if wondering what the response is going to be.

So she’ll walk into the house. She’ll be, “Hello?” And at first, I thought, “Oh, she’s just checking to see if somebody’s here.” But as time has gone on, it’s a way for her to evaluate where everybody is emotionally in the home. So it’s more a question of, “Hello? What am I going to be confronted with today? Am I dealing with dad, who’s overstressed? Am I dealing with dad, who’s here for me 100% for this time after school, so I can talk to him about my day? In what state is he in?” And it made me think, “Yeah, I need to be able to set the tone. To really set the tone.” So I did. I took a day.

And what I did by taking the day is I started to deep clean the house. Now, surprisingly, for a lot of people, deep cleaning the house doesn’t seem calming. For me, it is absolutely calming. And the reason being is I can do a task. I can see progress. I know there’s an end to it. And at the same time, I always feel taking care of where you live is a form of self-care. That’s for me. It’s not going to be for everybody. But for me, that does help. We have a dog, and the dog needed to have a bath. So instead of taking the dog to a place where I could give the dog a bath, I took the dog and gave the dog a bath here at home. And it was one of the most relaxing things I think I’ve done in a long time. Just me and my dog. I love my dog.

My dog’s name is Bear. Super calm dog that does not bark. He just comes sits at your feet. He’s very calm and relaxed. I love this dog. So we spent some time together, just the dog and me. I gave him a haircut, even though I’m not a dog groomer. But just being able to care for him, was very helpful for me.

For me, I can’t just sit there and watch a movie. I can’t do that. In fact, I don’t think I remember the last time I actually sat and watched a movie because I’ll usually be doing something else at the same time. Again, it’s important for you to set the tone.

Now, how is this related to Following Instructions? Well, I’m glad you asked. Following Instructions, setting a routine, adjusting your screen time so you’re not just consuming, but you’re interacting and engaging helps you set the tone for your home. And it’s all related to your ability to teach your child how to follow simple instructions and how they can follow those instructions to continually set a more proactive tone in your home.

That is one of the most powerful ways that you can help your child through this process and help yourself and really unify your family during the pandemic. It’s very, very important.

It will also decrease your sense of anxiety towards everything that’s happening. I want you to think of what it’s like if you were to go to work and your boss has all these things they need you to do. But they just tell you to do it automatically. They’re just, “Go do this.” Now imagine that you’re a child, and you don’t have the emotional capacity to absorb that. Of course, it’s going to be frustrating. That’s why you practice these things beforehand.

So you set up the expectation by reminding them you practiced these things. It’s a lot of work upfront, but I am telling you, I can guarantee to you, you put the work upfront, you’re going to deal with far less in the long run, rather than dealing with things consistently day after day after day, because that begins to chip away at you.

As a parent, you need to find a better way to parent and I’m telling you, Following Instructions is one of the most essential skills that you can teach your child that really has a huge impact.

Who knew that the four steps that you’re teaching your child and modeling for your child is going to transform your family. I’ve seen it happen over and over and over again. With so many families, so many children of different ages. So many economic backgrounds, different cultures. I can tell you Following Instructions are universal. This is a skill for everybody, for every family. I would teach it to any family. It’s important for them to learn how to do this.

What I love about the Teaching-Family Model and what we do here at Smarter Parenting is that we give you what to say and how to say it. We break it down into steps that you can follow, and that takes the anxiety out of you trying to figure it out. We’re giving it to you, and then you as a parent are doing the application. It’s actually quite beautiful when you think about it.

So, I highly recommend you jump over to the Smarter Parenting Website. There, you can find the skill of Following Instructions. Click on it. You’ll see a video. And in the video, a parent explains the steps. And then you get to see examples of how other parents have used the skills with their children. Those examples are meant to help guide you along the process. Now, if you have a child that you think will need to understand the steps and how to do it, watch the video with them. Have them watch it with you. Talk about it.

In addition to the skill on that page, you’ll find games and activities that will help you teach this with your child. Make it a fun interactive experience if you need it. You can also download and print the steps. I highly recommend you do that. So you can put them around the home. Your child can see them and remember them. But more importantly for you to remember, this is what I’m going to do.

Now, when parents say, “Okay, I’m going to do this. What if my child doesn’t follow my instructions? What do I do?” Well, you remind them. “We practiced this. You’re not following the instructions. Let’s try this again.” And then you start over. Okay?

And so you’re just going back to these basics to remind them, “Hey, we’ve done this before. You’ve done this before. This is easy. I’ve seen you do it. You’ve seen you do it. You’ve been praised for it. Let’s just get back on track.”

And in fact, you’ll have children who struggle every now and then. That’s how I would respond. I’d say, “Okay, you’re not Following Instructions, but we’ve practiced this. So we’re going to do it again. I’m going to give you an instruction. And I expect you to follow through with the instruction the way we practiced.

Here we go, ‘Wyatt, grab your pen and your notebook, sit at the table and write your name on the first page.’ And all you need to do is say, “Okay.” And do it and then tell me.” “Okay.” Write it down. “Okay, I’m done writing it down.” Okay? Then you move on to the next instruction. Okay? And then you start to build from there.”

This is a skill that you will continually build on top of with additional skills. Which is again, another reason I love the Teaching-Family Model is, we take skills, and these skills all interact with each other and support each other, but they’re built with all of them together in mind. It is like a toolbox. And in an effective toolbox, you have different tools to address different things, but you will know what they’re used for and what will be most effective. So, you know when you need a hammer, when you need a wrench, when you need a screwdriver, you’ll know.

So, jump over to the Smarter Parenting website, check it out.

Now, if you need individual coaching on how to implement this with a family, that’s what you can do if you sign up for the club. To sign up for the club, I can guide you through this whole process of how do you would do it with your specific child and with your specific needs. Because not every child is the same. Right?

So again, routines. You want to establish routines. You want it to be flexible, though, for you and your family and what will work. And what will work for your family is not necessarily what will work with other families.

Number two, screen time. Be very, very intentional on how you use screen time. You want it to be social.

Number three set the tone. You are in charge as the parent to set the tone in the home. By using Following Instructions, you are going to help your child understand that the tone is safe and that home is a safe place. And this helps to deescalate those negative behaviors.

I’m excited to hear from you. Send me your questions and sign up for the club membership if you’d like,, and let’s work on this together. I would love to work with you.

That’s it for me for this week. I will talk to you again next week. All right. Catch you later. Bye

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Ep #120: Coping with pandemic exhaustion and changing needs

Ep #119: Creating normalcy when things feel uncertain

Ep #104: Investing time with your child



Behavior Skill: Following Instructions

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The ADHD Smarter Parenting Podcast with Siope Kinikini