As a parent, we play so many different roles in the home that getting our kids to listen and follow instructions might not always take the forefront in our list of responsibilities that it should.
Picture this…the other morning I’m getting the kids ready for school, I walk downstairs and ask them both to put their shoes on when I noticed that my toddlers sippy cup is leaking milk all over her and all over the floor. They say ok as I go to change the toddler. I come back down… no shoes. So, I repeat myself as I’m cleaning up the milk, “please get your shoes on, I should not have to ask twice.” I grab their lunches and start putting them into their book bags when I notice that while I changed the toddler, I did not change the sippy cup and there is milk…everywhere… again! ARGH! Heading back upstairs I start to raise my voice, “get your shoes on now! You need to get better at listening.” It took me yelling to actually get them to do what I had asked in the first place.
So, I started to wonder, why don’t they listen the first time? Why are they so naughty? When I started to realize that maybe it’s not them, maybe it’s in the way I’m asking. Boys Town teaches “following instructions” as one of their social skills and I don’t think I have ever really broken down for my children what they should do when I ask them to do something. Boys Town parenting teaches that there are four steps to following an instruction; Look at the person, Say, “OK”, Complete the Task, Check Back.
So I tried this on another morning when we had ample time to practice and learn. I asked them to do something and, business as usual, they did not listen. So, I explained to them what I (and society) expect when you are asked to do something. I explained the 4 steps and we practiced.
Now when I ask them to do something, they can either do the task, or they hear me repeat what the four steps are and why its important to follow instructions. The mere distraction of me giving this explanation over and over again is enough to make them not argue or dilly dally, its kind of nice.
Also, we invested in a new sippy cup.