Parenting Myth 2 – The More I Repeat Myself, the Better my Child will Behave

This is the 2nd parent trap of effective parenting.  You can read Myth 1 by clicking here – Punishment will Change a Child’s Bad Behaviour

There’s this whole part to parenting where it some children seem to need constant reminders on what to do, when to do it and how to do it.  You know the one, where you need to keep repeating yourself before your child finally moves a muscle?

You nag, threaten, shout, reprimand, warn and yell on a daily basis just to get through to him.

I’ve had clients whose laments include, “It’s like she cannot hear what I am saying!” or “I have to shout for him to just get a move on and I’m frigging tired.  By the time we leave the house we are all so annoyed!”

Let’s quickly look at how things should really go.

  • You ask your child to do something e.g “Please go put on your shoes.” (Antecedent)
  • And they get up and do it immediately (Behaviour)
  • You acknowledge that they have done it e.g “Great, you’ve put on your shoes! Thank you for doing as I asked.” (Consequence)

However, if you’re readying this, this is might be happening in your home… your request doesn’t yield any action, so after a few minutes, you repeat your instruction again, and again and again each time getting louder and more frustrate …and the trouble starts.

Eventually, you either end up whatever you had asked yourself in anger or you continue to threaten, shout, reprimand, warn and yell at your child before you can get him or her to do it…if at all.

Why is this?  Why does this happen?

Well, if no behaviour directly follows your first instruction or request, then the instruction is rendered ineffective.

Repeating it over and over again just means that your child is less likely to do what you ask next time.

Secondly, it is your behaviour, as the parent,  that is usually affected by all the repetition and nagging and chances are, that even if your child eventually does as requested, she will most likely not behave properly while getting it done.

There are practical and workable ways that you can get your child to do as asked.

There are more effective ways to give instructions that will not only reduce the number of times you give instructions but that will also improve the quality of your communication with your children.

Keep the following in mind when giving your child instruction:

  • Check what your child is doing when you ask them to do something.   Is he watching his favourite show or so engaged in an activity that she hasn’t heard what you said?  Timing is very important.
  • Are you giving them too several instructions at a time?  One at a time works best depending on your child’s behaviour.  A 12-year-old for instance can be asked to, go get out of his school uniform, put them in the dirty laundry basket then come down for a snack.  While the same instructions given to a 4-year-old are too many.
  • Is your request age-appropriate or too advanced? Asking a three-year-old to go and tidy up his bedroom is setting him up to fail. Too much, too soon.
  • How clear and precise are your instructions? Does she really know what you’re asking off her?

When things are allowed to escalate, you risk saying things that are mean and hurtful or carrying out regrettable actions because you are just absolutely fed up, tired and frustrated!!!

If you are would like to change the way your instructions are received and acted upon do let me know and I can help you with this.  It usually takes max 2 – 3 sessions to solve.


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