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How to Communicate Clear Directions

Tips for Getting Through to Your Kids

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Following these steps consistently will enhance communication with your child and enable him/her to follow through on the directions you give.

1. Make Eye Contact

When possible, meet your child at eye-level when you're giving directions. This ensures that your child knows you are speaking with him, and dramatically increases his ability to listen. In addition, try to keep your expression open, rather than tense or accusatory.

2. Speak in a Clear, Firm Voice

This lets your child know that you're serious about what you're asking. Be careful not to yell or use a harsh tone of voice, though, which your child is likely to tune out. Your tone should be just a little lower than your regular speaking voice, which lets your child know that you "mean business."

3. Repeat the Directions

Ask your child to repeat the directions back to you. This is a great tool for making sure your child knows what is expected. If he is unable to tell you what you had asked him to do, or if there were too many steps, take the time to go over again what you are asking. In addition, try to keep your instructions to no more than three steps. For example, "Get dressed, brush your teeth, and brush your hair." If you notice that your child consistently has trouble remembering routines, consider posting a chore chart or pictures of each step to help him stay focused.
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