When communicating with children there is an old management axiom of communication that works well with children also. If you want your children to respond well to your instructions for them, try these steps.
Make sure your communication is:
- Make sure children understand what you are trying to say. Children are not capable of comprehension at an adult level.
- Speak their language. Children don’t always understand clichés and innuendoes.
- Say what you mean. Don’t make them guess at your meaning. This may work with your spouse (NOT!), but it will not work with children.
- Don’t nag children. It’s tempting, but it’s not successful.
- Don’t threaten unless you will follow through with the threat. Make sure children understand what you want them to do and then give consequences when they don’t comply.
- Use short phrases and sentences. Remember, they have short attention spans.
- Keep the same values and expectations over time and talk with your children often.
- Follow through with commitments, even when they challenge your authority or throw a tantrum.
- Have a vision for parenting (where you want to lead them) so you can consistently lead them there. Children are more likely to follow if they sense you have direction.
Keep in mind that children learn best by example, so don’t be a “Do as I say, not as I do” parent. The life you live in front of them will be the loudest communication you offer them.