When working with parents, one of the common pitfalls we see, is when parents give unclear instructions to their children. I am particularly guilty of this.
So when giving instructions to young children, we can help parents to consider the following.
1. Give clear, simple instruction. Not too much but not too little either. Avoid giving multiple instructions with multiple steps all at once, especially when we are stressed.
2. Avoid asking questions at times e.g. would you like to go to bed now little one? You might not like the answer you get, which the may lead to an escalation trap.
3. Try to give instructions at eye level whenever possible instead of giving the instruction from another room, although that may be more convenient.
4. Avoid untimely instructions like asking them to go and brush their teeth when there’s only a minute left on a TV show. Be timely.
6. Be aware of the feelings with which one delivers the instructions. It’s not simply just what we say or do, but with which feelings we use to deliver it. Be optimistic, hopeful, kind, calm or even neutral. Avoid the anger or frustration trap, as these feelings can be very “contagious”. Our children may pick that up, and deliver it right back at us, leading to another escalation trap.
For those with children, can you relate to the above?