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Common Mistakes Parents Make when giving children instructions or commands



Providing Vague Directions

As parents, we must choose our words carefully when giving instructions to our children. For instance, a comment such as ‘Can you kindly help me to pick up the laundry? Implies that the task that you requested of your child is optional. Unless you intentionally desire that the task is optional for your child, it would be a better alternative to add an authoritative and commanding tone to your voice. A ideal example would be ‘Please pick up the laundry immediately’. Naturally, the difference in your tone is very instrumental in making sure whether your child listens to you or not. Thus, it is important that we give instructions in a clear and distinct tone as that would be more effective in getting us results. Avoid sounding like we are pleading or requesting a favor as we do not want to be in a position of weakness in the presence of our children especially since parents are the rule enforcers in the household

Emphasizing too much on negative reinforcement

It is not uncommon for parents to embrace negative reinforcement with their children. With all the buzz around ‘Tiger Parenting’ and the success story of Tiger Mother Amy Chua and her children, it is no surprise that many parents are seeking to replicate her notorious methods. However, it is noteworthy that every child is unique and has a different response to different treatments. Some children thrive on receiving positive attention and positive reinforcement. Without these variables in their lives, they tend to lose motivation and more importantly the sight of their goals. Miring them in negativity by criticizing or even beating them can lead to them gradually withdrawing into themselves for fear of receiving further flak and scoldings for their perceived incompetence. Other potential consequences of negative reinforcement are loss of self-confidence and worth or even minor depression for emotionally sensitive children whom are more deeply affected by hurtful words and harshness. How do we go about implementing positive reinforcements then? For starters, praising your child when they accomplish something positive such as doing well in an exam or taking the initiative to do household chores. Also, avoid being verbally or physically abusive. If you have to criticize your child or express disapproval, do it in a calm and composed, but authoritative manner.

Not following through on consequences

How many times have you told your child, ‘if you don’t turn off the computer now, you will be banned from using it later on? However, we fail to enforce it eventually as either we forgot about the punishment or we can’t be bothered to pursue it as our child has eventually stopped using the computer to play video games. Threats that lack a real consequence are ultimately useless if our children know that we are not going to execute or follow through anyway. In fact, it might even leave the impression on our children that their parents are compulsive liars. Fixing this is simple however, as all we have to do is to actually follow through with the punishment. Every time we issue a warning to our child, we could make a small note on our mobile devices or a mental note to remind ourselves. If we warned our kids that they are not allowed to use their computer for the night since they have used it for excessive periods of time prior, we can unplug the computer or lock it with a different password for the night. Do remind them repeatedly of their transgression however, so that they will remember that the punishment was just and that they could avoid similar punishments by simply following the rules that their parents set.

Excessive repetition of instructions

Nagging and excessive repetitions of the same statements can have the unintended consequence of your child being immune to your words and disapproval. This is because they realize that their parents are just repeating the same thing over and over again and that listening might not be enough to stop them from continuing. Thus, your child might ignore you out of annoyance and frustration. Thus, instead of yelling endlessly at your child to stop littering, a better alternative would be for parents to give one firm and authoritative command. If the child does not comply with the parent’s commands, the parent is then justified in punishing the child accordingly. Do not allow the child to procrastinate or ignore your commands.

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