Don’t be surprised if you encounter some defiance as your child grows older. It is perfectly normal and other parents are experiencing the same issues. For example, they may refuse to remove their shoes before heading to their bedrooms, reject a spoonful of baby food, or refuse to get off the swing set and allow other kids to play. Interestingly, most kids learn to say, “No,” at around age two or three. Hint: they might even start using it as a magic sword. Before you get worked up over frustration, below are several strategies to help you deal with kids who refuse to follow directions.
GIVE YOUR CHILD MORE TIME TO PROCESS THE INSTRUCTIONS
After giving a set of directions to your kids, avoid ending the conversation with a quick, “Do you understand?” Adults are typically used to processing information much quicker than kids. In fact, children’s brains need more time to process and apply the information. Consider giving your kids a hearty pause of about three to seven seconds before confirming if they have heard what you’ve just said. If your kid starts to throw a tantrum, let him or her calm down before talking again. After the break, ask open-ended questions like: “When did you start to get upset?” “What were you thinking when you were feeling angry?” Try to avoid ‘why’ questions as they may seem accusatory.
KEEP YOUR DIRECTIONS SHORT AND CONCISE
It is normal for some children to hear more conversational white noise than others while adults are speaking to them. In this case, you should say exactly what needs to be said and trim out all of the unnecessary elements. Instead of “Come now, you have got to hurry. You are going to be late for your doctor’s appointment if you don’t get out of the door now!” Shorten it with just, “Put your shoes on, we are leaving.”
GET YOUR CHILD'S FULL ATTENTION BEFORE SPEAKING
Sharing instructions and directions before getting a child’s full attention is like speaking in a foreign language. If your kid is distracted, get down to the child’s level (eye level) and make eye contact. Proceed to ask your child to do something and explain the reason. This allows him or her to understand the bigger picture and eliminate that feeling that they need to do something just because you are in charge. For example, “Please hold the tray of eggs with both hands to avoid dropping them.”
TRAIN YOUR CHILD BY PLAYING WITH CERTAIN TOYS
Most kids are not naturally patient or focused. As parents, we cannot hold that against them. However, they will need those skills to succeed in every area of life, including relationships, school, etc. That’s why they need exposure to constructive play through toys. For example, construction toys help them develop focus when building a ‘project’ from start to finish. In addition, they have to practice caution so that they don’t knock over their work. On the other hand, emergency vehicle toys enable them to improve their logic and reasoning. When a fire breaks out, where should the truck stop and what must the firemen do? There are certain steps to follow if they want to put the fire out and rescue the victims. As kids play, they will become more patient, focused, compliant, and prepared for life.