Quick Tip

2 Methods to Give Clear Directions and Get Cooperation

Clear Directions

How often you find yourself shouting a request up the stairs, or on your way out the door to an activity, only to find that nothing has been done? How often do you try to get cooperation and get explosions instead? Who would have thought that there was a “right” way to give directions?

There may not be a right or a wrong way, but here are two different methods we've both used at different times that can increase the effectiveness of requests, either of your kids or your spouse.

Diane: Giving Clear Directions with ADHD in Mind

1. Make sure you have someone's attention:

Eye contact? Distractions limited? You get the picture…

2. Be specific:    

Pick up the toys and put them in the toy chest” rather than “clean your room.”

3. Be positive

Tell them what you want them to do rather than what not to do.  My favorite is “walk” rather than “don't run.”

4. Be brief:

“upstairs, bath, now” rather than a list of instructions, and a long drawn-out version of why and what's going to happen if they don't.  Remember, our kids typically are challenged with working memory deficits.

Thanks to CHADD's Parent to Parent Program for some of these concepts.

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Elaine: Getting Cooperation with Clear Directions

Here's a quick 4-step process (and some helpful language) to help you Give Directions and Re-Direct Behaviors so that you GET COOPERATION instead of explosions.  

1. Acknowledge your Child's Experience.

When asking them to do something: “I know you're in the middle of a game and it's a pain in the neck to get interrupted…”

When reminding them: “I know you absolutely meant to reload the dishwasher and that it probably slipped your mind…”

2. Show Compassion (and gratitude when appropriate).

When asking them to do something: “I hate it when I get interrupted, too – I'm sorry to have to stop you in the middle, but I really appreciate your taking care of this now.”

When reminding them: “It's gotta be really frustrating when you mean to do something and then forget. I know you didn't forget on purpose.”

3. Get Curious.

When asking them to do something: “So do you want to stop now and take care of this? Or do you want to wait for a natural stopping point in a few minutes?”

When reminding them: “So what do you think you might do differently, next time?”

4. Guide them to Action with Accountability.

When asking them to do something: (playfully) “Great. How do you want to make sure you make it happen?”

When reminding them: “I know you may not know what to do differently – that's okay, it's hard. Why don't we brainstorm together and come up with a few options for you to try?”

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