Monday, 6 February 2012

Instructing Children Effectively

Do you find yourself instructing children frequently every single day - be it as a parent at home or a teacher in school?

“Do this”.

“Don’t do that”.

“Put this back”.

“Don’t take that”.

“Finish your homework.”

“Stop playing.”

“Finish your lunch”.

“Switch off the TV”

“Don’t dream”.

‘Stop talking”.

Logic tells us that in order for children to know what they are supposed to do, they need frequent instructions from adults. Ironically, frequent instructions often come in the way of getting children to do whatever is expected of them.

How often have you felt that you keep telling a child something and he does not even seem to be listening? How often does this frustrate you and tire you out?

The secret to getting children to follow your instructions lies in instructing less and instructing effectively.

Here are a few thoughts on instructing effectively.

  • Establish a Routine- Establish a routine that clearly spells out what needs to be done at different times of the day. When children have a routine to follow every single day and are trained to follow it, you will need to instruct less. Children will automatically know what needs to be done next with fewer instructions.
  • Instruct at the Right Time- Have you heard people saying “It’s all about the right timing”. This is often applicable to instructing children as well. Timing is a crucial factor. For instance, if your child is busy building a tower with blocks and you suddenly instruct him to wind up, you may get no response from him. So, if the child is immersed in an activity, give him a few minutes to complete his activity and then instruct him to put it back. If the matter is urgent and you really need him to wind up immediately, go up to him and politely explain to him the reason you’re asking him to wind up. Most children understand when we have a fair attitude and explain our intentions to them politely.
  • Instruct in a Respectful Tone of Voice and Keep it Short- You are more likely to get a response to your instructions if they are short ones given out in a respectful tone of voice. Being respectful does not mean you need to plead. You just have to be respectful in your communication.Short instructions given out in a crisp neutral tone of voice fetch a better response than long ones given out in an aggressive tone of voice. 

Changing the way you instruct a child could take some initial effort, but it will be well worth the reward.

Practice makes perfect the art of instructing children!

So, keep practising. 

Be an effective instructor!

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