Asking only once

Have you ever heard yourself or another parent say to a child “How many times do I need to ask you?” When we ask children repeatedly to do something, we train them to expect multiple requests before they need to take any action.

A better approach is to ask children only once to do something and then take action if it doesn’t happen. For example, suppose you asked your child to pick up the jacket he just tossed on the floor. If your child starts playing with a toy instead of picking up his jacket, one way to guide him is to touch him gently on the shoulders and say “I need you to hang up your jacket now.” This will help get his attention while letting him know that you expect him to do what you’ve asked.

You could also state your expectation saying “Feel free to play with that toy just as soon as your jacket is hung up.” What will you do if your child still doesn’t pick up his jacket? There are many possibilities including taking away the toy until the jacket is picked up. By taking action instead of simply repeating the request, you are teaching your child to respond the first time you ask.

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