At CLMS, when communicating with children, we always strive to be consistent without being illogical, rigid, or irrelevant. You may be wondering how that sounds in real life…so here are some examples that we hope you will find useful and applicable in many situations. Please note: This is not about obedience, we’ll save that for another day!
1. Be objective, not personal, in your instructions: “Books go in this bookcase”…rather than: “I want you to be sure to keep your books in the bookcase…or Why did you put the book there, please pick it up and put it in the proper place like I’ve shown you a thousand times!”
2. Be positive not negative: “Use this broom, it’s your size.”…rather than “You’re too little to use that broom.”
3. Give the social reason for rules versus flat authority: “Hang the coat up before someone steps on it and gets it dirty.”…rather than “Hang it up.”
4. Give a solution to a problem rather than mere prohibitions: “Please move to this side of the table, John, so that Mary will be able to see.”…rather than: “Please don’t stand in Mary’s way, John.”
5. Be specific. Give concrete information using concrete names and commands: “If you hold the card by its edge, it will stay clean.”…rather than: “Don’t mess up this card.”
6. Match objects and actions to your words: “Trays (pause and show) are held in the middle (pause and show) near your waist (pause and show).”…rather than: “Do it this way.”
7. Give awareness of consequences: “Hitting hurts Peter.”…rather than: “Don’t hit Peter.”
8. Act as an individual to defend the common law in specific instances: “I will not let you hurt John with the stick.”…rather than: “We don’t hurt people.”
9. Recognize the validity of emotions when you limit destructive actions:
“I know you are angry but you may not hurt Mary.”…rather than: “Why did you hit Mary? She’s your friend.”
“I know you are afraid but you must have the scratch cleaned.”…rather than: “You are a big girl and that little scratch doesn’t hurt.”
“I know you don’t want to wear shoes but you must protect your feet when you walk on (city sidewalks-backyard-wherever)”…rather than: “You don’t want your feet to get all dirty and hurt, do you?”
10. Get to a YES & make it fun: “You haven’t come to dinner when I called…are you getting hungry?(yes) Good, put your toys away & I’ll check to see if you can beat your fastest time…READY, SET, GO!...rather than: “I’ve called you four times to come to dinner – we’re waiting – COME NOW!
Here are some useful techniques to ensure solid communication with your child(ren):
1) Cross the room, if necessary, to speak to a child. (Touch or hold the child’s hand softly while speaking).
2) Speak to the child directly and privately.
3) Stoop down to eye level (get eye contact) and speak quietly.
4) Do not give the child a choice when you care which choice he makes. Only use the words “Would you
like to…” when you are willing to have him say, “No.” Otherwise say, “Please do this now.”
5) Give one verbal instruction at a time to the young child. The youngest cannot follow a sequence of
6) Isolate the particular motions in your actions with pauses to emphasize sequence. Example: hold up (1
finger) “Please go put on your shoes” (2nd finger) “Put on your coat” (3rd finger) “Stand by the back door
and wait for me to come.” Have them repeat it back using their fingers to make sure they have it!”