So why do parents invest so little in developing an effective instruction routine? From my own experience, it’s because we get busy and simply hope for the best.
A faulty routine looks like this: the parent gives an instruction then gets busy and forgets about it. Remembering later, the parent checks on the child and finds that nothing has been done. The parent speaks a little louder or with a threat like, “I’m not going to ask you again to…” or “How many times do I have to ask you to…?”
The parent goes away and doesn’t follow through, and the child waits for another cue. Children play the delay game until they finally observe a cue that causes them to think “Mom’s really serious now, so I better move!” Maybe it’s the redness in mom’s face, the veins popping out on dad’s neck or the anger in their voices. Parents often send the message that nothing need happen until we get angry.
Turansky and Miller from the National Center for Biblical Parenting advise parents to use a “tight action point.” A tight action point means that you act quickly to require your child to follow through with an instruction.
Another improvement they recommend is to have your child answer you back. Requiring this answer immediately after an instruction sends the cue that you mean now, plus it helps avoid the “I didn’t hear you” ploy later.
Train your child to say ‘yes Mom’ or ‘yes Dad’ after your instruction. If you have a child who is prone to forget what you said, have them repeat your instruction to you.
By having your child answer back you also have a chance to gauge their heart’s intention. A child who won’t answer back (after being taught to do so) may need a lesson about respect or responsibility. That child might be angry or sullen.
Body language like rolling the eyes or stomping of feet indicates a disrespectful heart. It’s best to identify and address a wrong attitude right then.
A faulty instruction routine often leads to harshness on your part, encourages disobedience, and builds frustration in both you and your child. A clear, gentle, but firm instruction routine with prompt follow-through fosters a peaceful home and teaches your child to respect your words.
Discipline your son, and he will give you rest;
he will give delight to your heart.
Have you analyzed your instruction routine lately?
By James D. Dempsey, Ph.D.
Husband to Gail, Father of three
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Presenter for The National Center For Biblical Parenting
Author of Parenting Unchained,
and host of the radio show by the same name at www.LOTOradio.com.
Click on Jim’s book for a link to read more!