Why Are Good Directions Important?
Toddlers and preschoolers are exploring and discovering their world. They are also learning about what is right and wrong. Below are explanations for why good directions are useful in many situations.
Good directions teach your child how to behave.
When you give good directions, you tell your child exactly what behaviors you expect. Instead of saying, “Stop it!”, “Quit!”, or “Don’t do that!”, tell your child exactly what you want him to do. For example, you might say, “Please walk instead of running in the house” or “Please sit so that I can put on your shoes.”
When you give your child choices with your directions, you also encourage his independence. For example, if you want your child to get dressed, you can give him two choices by saying, “Please put on the gray pants or the blue ones.”
Good directions are helpful when you need your child to do something specific or to stop your child from doing a misbehavior or something dangerous.
If your child is doing something harmful or dangerous, a good direction can stop the misbehavior. For example, if your child is standing in a chair, you can say, “Please sit with your bottom on the chair.” If your child is dangerously tipping the chair back, you can say, “Please keep the chair on the floor.”
Good directions can prevent misbehaviors.
Good directions can prevent misbehaviors. For example, if you see that your child is about to throw a toy, you can give him a direction to redirect his behavior. You might say, “Please put the toy on the floor gently.” The direction lets your child know what behavior you expect from him.
What if my child still does not follow my directions?
Anytime you give a direction, use consequences if your child does not listen. When you are first learning to give good directions, it is helpful to ask yourself if you have the time and energy to follow through with a consequence. For consequences to work, you need to follow through with the consequences each time. Click here to learn more about discipline and consequences.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Giving good directions is a skill that is not always easy and practice will help. Practice when you have time to follow through if your child does not listen. It will take some time for your child to learn that you mean what you say. It is perfectly normal for children not to follow directions some of the time. However, it is important to be prepared and have a plan for immediately following through with a consequence. Click here for consequences that you can use for not following directions.