"Do this."

"Don't do that."

"Eat your chicken"

"If you don't eat your meat you can't have any pudding" (ok, I have been borrowing from Pink Floyd)

Rules.  Rules.  Rules.

Lecture. Lecture. Lecture.

Yet, does it work?  Does it help to consistently remind children of the rules and how we expect them to act and talk?  Does putting in more work and effort into teaching children produce the dividends it is meant to create?

Do you remember being lectured by authority figures when you were a child?  Did the lecture work?

Most often, children are just waiting for the lecture to end and absorb little, if any of the content the adult wants to give over.

Here are some rules that may help you avoid investing in your efforts into futility.

  • Provide new information. Are you providing new information that the child does not have, or are you repeating what they have already heard from you or others in the past?  If it is the latter, the chances that the failed intervention will work when repeated is statistically very low.
  • Speak in short sentences.  Can you say it in ten words or less?  Chances are the first five words and the last five words you use will be heard.  The words in between will have limited value.
  • Tell children what they should do.  If you tell a child what they should do rather than telling them what to do, the chances of compliance increases.
  • Role Model.  Do it yourself.  Children learn by observing the adults in their life.  If you say "Please" and "Thank you," chances are, they will do so as well.  If you eat vegetables, the chances of them eating vegetables increases.
  • Give a Child Time and Space to comply.



Charles Sender, LCSW