We all want kids to listen to us the first time without having to repeat our directions. But it’s upsetting when they just don’t listen.
That’s why using choices in your directions can be so powerful because it gives kids autonomy while meeting your expectations.
In another blog and video I shared more about how to use choice as the quickest way to get them to do what you want.
But I bet there will be times when choice doesn’t work.
You know that time when you were all prepared and you gave them a choice and they just stared at you.
Or maybe they did the complete opposite and yelled no!
When this happens we have to go back to what we taught them. What expectations do they know, understand and are able to do?
What may be happening is that you may have to teach them to listen.
I know you’re thinking kids have ears, they hear you, they just aren’t doing what they’re told.
That may be true, but sometimes there is a difference between hear and listen. To listen means to comprehend the words and understand what is being said with some background knowledge.
For example, you could listen to some physics geek give a speech about how some kind of neuron works in the world and may even give you an experiment to try, but if they’re using a lot of words you aren't familiar with would you understand it?
So seriously, it is important to teach kids one step at a time.
Get them to fully understand what it is that you want them to do just like any other skill.
That’s where teaching choices come in. Teach kids to follow directions by understanding what each choice means and how to do it.
And the best way to teach is to consider the way kids learn.
These 3 elements are the best way to teach choice and get kids to do what you want them to do.
1. Teach through play
Children need time to experience and practice what you want them to do. If they get the opportunity to do things in non-stressful situations that don’t have any high-stakes on whether they do it right, then they get the practice to make mistakes, try again and do it right.
2. Do together
An important way for kids to learn is to feel connected with someone and either be encouraged, or supported. When a caring adult takes the time to model and explain how to follow their expectations, children will be more likely to do what you tell them to do.
3. Clear expectations
Sometimes expectations are clear as mud.
Have you ever had this happen to you when someone asks you to do something, but it leaves you with more questions? Like a task at work maybe leaves you to wonder, when it’s due, how to file something, or where to collect the information?
This can happen to kids too!
Imagine you ask them to get ready for bed and they are in the middle of playing. Were your directions clear so they know that you mean now, how and what steps they need to do?
Take time to be clear on what you need at least until they have routinely followed your expectations to know what you need them to do.
Have you heard of the 3 key tips to get behavior you love?
This video series was made to provide you with the step by step directions you need to get behavior you love.