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Give Good Commands

Good commands are: • Direct (“Mary, please hang up the towel” vs. “Mary, let’s hang up the towel”). • Positively stated (“Please hold my hand” vs. “Stop running”). • Given one at a time (“John, please pick up your coat” vs. “John, you know you are to put your coat in the closet, your lunch bag in the kitchen, and your books on the table when you get home”). • Clear and concise (“I want you to sit quietly in the cart. Do not touch anything in the store” vs. “I want you to be good”). • Age-appropriate (“Get an apple out of the bowl” vs. “Get a snack from the kitchen”). • Polite and respectful (“Please hand me the brush” vs. “Give me that brush right now”). • Something the child can do immediately (“Please get ready for bed now” vs. “Tomorrow I want you to go to bed on time”). • Used only when necessary (e.g., child is jumping on the couch; “Please sit down” vs. “Say good-bye to Aunt Mary”).

Ask No Questions/Make No Suggestions

Do not ask a question when you want your child to do something (“Would you feed the cat now?”). When you ask your child a question, you give him or her a choice, and you must be willing to accept “No” as an answer. If you give a suggestion (“Let’s go outside”), you should also be prepared to allow your child to say “No.” Be sure to give your child true choices as much as possible, but not when you want him or her to do what you say.

Praise Compliance

After you give a command, stop and wait 5 seconds for your child’s response (count silently, never out loud). If your child does what you want, immediately praise or attend to him or her (“I appreciate your hanging up your coat”). As you learned in the Child’s Game, you can increase compliance by giving it attention after its occurrence. You can also increase compliance by describing your child’s actions as he or she starts to obey (“I see you are picking up the blocks”).

Give a Warning

If your child does not comply with your command after a (silent) count of 5 seconds, give a warning. Do not repeat the command. Warnings are “If–then” statements (“If you don’t pick up your coat, then you will have to sit on the chair!”). Warnings should be given in a stern voice so that your child knows that you are serious. If your child complies following a warning, immediately praise and/or attend to him or her.

Use Time Out

If your child does not start to comply within 5 seconds after a warning, you should use time out. Time out by isolation is best carried out by putting your child in a chair facing a corner or in his or her room. Take your child firmly by the hand and place him or her on the chair. Say, “Since you did not ______ , you will have to sit in the chair [or stay in your room].” The length of time out should be 2 to 4 minutes for preschool children and about 5 minutes for school-age children. Use the same length of time out for both major and minor offenses.

Do not talk to your child on the way to time out or while he or she is in time out. Completely ignore your child’s temper tantrums, shouting, protesting, or promises to behave. Go about your activities. Use a kitchen timer so the child knows he or she has to sit until the timer rings. A very important rule is that your child must sit quietly in the chair for 30 seconds before being released from time out. If your child is not quiet when the bell rings, say, “You will have to stay until you are quiet.” If you are using a chair for time out and your child gets off the chair without your permission (buttocks leave the seat or the chair is moved), immediately use one of the following procedures:

• Take your child to an uninteresting and safe room, and close the door for 60 seconds. Take the child back to the chair and say, “Sit there and be quiet.” If your child still does not stay in the chair, take him or her back to the room and again close the door. Say, “You must stay here until you are quiet.” • Simply take your child back to the chair every time the child gets out of the chair. Do not talk to the child. Be prepared for 10 to 20 trips. After your child has been quiet for at least 30 seconds (preferably for the entire length of the time-out period) and the timer rings, the child may come out of time out (“You may come out now”). Repeat the command that resulted in time out. Then repeat giving a warning and time out as many times as necessary until your child complies. Be sure to praise compliance.

Do Not Reason with a Young Child Immediately after Misbehavior

Explanations and reasoning about rules and consequences of behavior are important, especially as your child gets older, but if you reason immediately after misbehavior you may actually increase the undesirable behavior. Reason with your child when he or she is doing something you like (“When you get ready for bed so quickly, it gives us more time to talk and read stories”).

Do Not Give a Command Unless You Are Prepared to Use Time Out

This will help you reduce the number of demands to those that are really important! Be affectionate and praise your child for desirable behaviors that occur after the time out. When time out is not working, ask yourself the following questions: • Are you giving more than one command or warning? • Is everyone in the household who is responsible for the child using time out appropriately and consistently? • Are there plenty of opportunities to praise the child (and are you praising desired behavior)? • Is the general atmosphere in the home pleasant? • Are you falling for the “I like to go to time out” trick? Don’t be fooled! • Is your child putting him- or herself in time out? If this is happening, be sure to make your child stay there for the required length of time. • Is your child getting attention while in time out, or can he or she see the TV or other enjoyable sights? • Is the child aware of the rules? • Is time out used consistently?

These are exceptional rules for helping to raise emotionally healthy children. What do you think of these??

Ernie 954-213-3923

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