Tips on Giving Instructions
- Be sure you have their attention, this may need direct eye contact or a touch
- Give instructions one or two at a time (chunk big jobs)
- Tell them what you want them to do and not what you want them to stop- be specific
- to stop – be specific
- To make sure that they have understood, how, when, where – ask them to repeat it back to you
- Check on their progress frequently
- Repeat the instruction if they have become distracted
- Praise them for compliance and effort
Giving choices allows a child to feel that they have some say, but don’t give choices when there shouldn’t be any. “It’s time for bed, okay?” “Would you like to take a bath now?” Instead say “its bedtime do you want to have a story or a bath?” Keep in mind that you will probably need to give transitional warnings prior to this.
Don’t give unlimited choices. “What do you want for breakfast” is too overwhelming. ‘Do you want eggs or cereal?’ is easier for them.
Use when, then, “When you have done what I’ve asked, then you can do what it is that you want to do or we can do something fun together.”
Broken record technique – Repeat your instructions in a neutral tone of voice, stay calm and neutral and do not engage in a discussion or debate. And remember, losing your temper won’t result in the “win, win” situation that is the ultimate goal.
When going out in Public – Review the rules and your expectations for their behaviour. Put a reward in place, check that they have understood the expectations and get their agreement. Give frequent feedback on their behaviour. NOTE: make sure that you are not setting up your child for failure by expecting them to execute something that is beyond their level of functioning. For instance a 60 minute shopping trip may be just too much for them to handle.