Make sure your child understands the rules.
Telling a child to “do this” or to “avoid doing that” is not enough. To ensure that your child knows the rules cold, create lists and post them around the house. For example, you might draw up a list detailing the specific things your child must do to get ready for school.
Make sure the rules are worded clearly. Go over the rules to make sure he understands, and review them as necessary. Stick with the routines until your child has them down.
Give clear commands.
First, say your child’s name to make sure you have his attention. Then tell him exactly what you want him to do. If you’re in the checkout line at the grocery store, for instance, you might say, “Steve, stand next to me and do not touch anything.” It’s not enough to tell your child to “be good,” because he may not know what that entails. Finally, state the consequences for disobeying the command — and always follow through.
Don’t expect perfection.
Strike a balance between praising your child and offering criticism. A good rule of thumb is to praise your child for doing something well at least five times as often as you criticize bad behavior.
You’ll only set your child up for failure if you expect immediate and perfect results. Instead, focus on rewarding small steps — and gradually work your way toward the desired outcome.
If you notice that you are criticizing too much, lower your standards a bit. You’ll only drive yourself — and your child — crazy if you nitpick.