Teach Your Child to Follow Instructions by Dr. Arti Jain

Teach Child Instructions Dr Arti Jain April 2014Learning how to discipline your child is an important skill that all parents need to learn. Discipline is not the same as punishment. Instead, discipline has to do more with teaching, and involves teaching your child right from wrong, how to respect the rights of others, which behaviors are acceptable and which are not, with a goal of helping to develop a child who feels secure and loved, is self-confident, self-disciplined and knows how to control his impulses, and who does not get overly frustrated with the normal stresses of everyday life.

The recommendations below can be of assistance in teaching children to follow parental directions the first time they are given.

*Be prepared to enforce. Parents should avoid giving their children a direction unless they are prepared to enforce it. If parents do not enforce their directions, then children learn that their parents don’t mean what they say.

*Let your child make some of the rules. Giving a child a say gives him an impetus to follow the rule or direction—and he’s less likely to claim you’re unfair.

*Create positive and negative consequences.

*Get their attention. Get their attention before giving a direction. Avoid yelling directions from another room.

*Don’t ask questions. Parents should avoid phrasing directions as questions (for example, don’t say “Justin, would you like to pick up your toys now?”).

*Don’t be vague. Make directions concrete and precise.

*Keep directions meaningful and developmentally appropriate.

*Have your child repeat the directions to you. This helps you make sure that they understand what is desired of them.

*Give them only few steps at a time. It helps to ensure that the task is completed and they have a feeling of accomplishment.

*Play ‘‘listening and following directions games’’. Kids learn a lot via games. It will help them learn while having fun.

*Rehearse new or unfamiliar directions. Make sure the children understand what is expected of them.

*Tell them what to do. Parents should try to give directions that tell children what to do instead of what not to do. E.g.  say, “Stay by my side,” not  “Don’t run away.”

*Give them choices not commands. Again, giving your child some say in what procedures she’s to follow can often prevent power struggles.

*Praise them. Parents don’t need to wait until the task is completed to offer praise and do not focus on the one or two directions that were not followed.

*Show appreciation. When the task is complete, parents should let their children know they appreciate their compliance.

*Don’t repeat warnings. Children can learn to follow directions after one or no warning just as easily as they can learn to follow directions after five or six warnings.

*Follow less desired behavior with more desired behavior. This gives the children an incentive to complete the task and look forward to something that they enjoy.

*Most importantly, provide your child with a safe environment in which he feels secure and loved.

Good Luck and Have Fun!!


Dr. Arti Jain – Doctor Jain is a very caring pediatrician practicing in the Santa Clara County California area.  You can contact her:  Tel (408)-378-6171 or email her: Jainarti.mail@gmail.com.  You can read more on her website: http://www.drartijain.com