Looking for ways to address underlying issues is important. Having a plan for anger in children and helping children overcome hurts in their lives is paramount. Emotionally connecting with children on a heart level is also essential.
We believe that most of these children need therapy. We also believe that you, as a parent, are the best therapist for your child, if you have a plan. Therapy means practice sessions. You can’t just develop a new plan and implement it during the times you’re already giving instructions. You’re child is going to have to practice following instructions for a while at other times.
We’ve developed a five-step Instruction Routine that helps parents break down the process of giving instructions to a child. And it helps children know what their tasks are in simple terms. Children with oppositional challenges need a good instruction routine. Children with ADD or ADHD also benefit greatly from a well-thought-out, easy-to-follow instruction routine. Even many children with special needs benefit from a predictable pattern for receiving instructions.
The word “instruction” means “to put structure into” and that’s what we’ve done with this five-step Instruction Routine. There are five skills children need to learn in order to follow instructions in your home. These five skills are the same ones that they will use at school, with a coach, and eventually in a job someday. As you work on these five skills every day using practice sessions you will teach your child the skills for responding to authority, cooperating, giving up one’s agenda for someone else, and responsibility.
But, as usual, the parent needs to change first before the child will change. So the five-step Instruction Routine gives the parent five things to do every time you give an instruction.
Five steps for the parent; five skills for the child. Now you have a plan. Now you can practice it. And now you’ll see significant change in your child in the area of cooperation. Resistance will diminish, relationship will increase, and your child will begin developing the life skills necessary.
You can learn about the five-step Instruction Routine in a workbook and CD entitled, Teaching Children to Listen and Follow Instructions. It’s actually part of a whole kit called the Heart Work Training Manuals and CDs. The workbook and CDs are filled with strategies and illustrations for parenting children ages 2-18. In addition you might want to look at the Treasure Hunters Children’s Curriculum. Each lesson corresponds to one of the lessons in the Heart Work Training Manuals and CDs and contains Bible stories, crafts, activities, science experiments, and games to teach your child important lessons.
The Treasure Hunters Children’s Program is designed for children ages 3-12. Lesson one is all about following instructions. Children learn the story of Samuel, a little boy who knew how to come when called. Children play a traffic game and even follow a recipe to make their snack. The idea is to give children a vision for following instructions, seeing that it’s a part of life for all of us. Even adults follow instructions.
Having tools and strategies will help you equip your child to overcome the defiance and resistance. It will turn conflict into learning experiences but you first have to have a plan. Parents who don’t have a plan tend to use anger to solve the problem, further contributing to resistance and opposition in a child. While working on resistance directly with a heart-based approach, you might also consider our material on honor. Honor changes families. It changes the way parents and children relate to each other. Honor is a creative and positive approach to addressing the way people interact and respond in family life.
If you need more support and help in this area you might want to sign up for an individual phone coaching session.
Whatever you do, hang in there. Your child needs you. Pray for your child every day and look for ways to help your child change on a heart level.