Give Reason to Foster the Following of Directions

As they approach age 3, children can understand instructions with several steps—for example: “Please pick up your shirt and put it in the basket.” Knowing this, you may be frustrated when your toddler doesn’t do what you have asked.

But they’re more likely to act on your instructions if you give them the reason for it: “Please pick up your shirt and put it in the basket, so it will be ready to go in the washing machine and be clean when you want to wear it again.”

Sometimes we assume young children understand the context of the things we say to them. But they don’t really start to figure out that actions have reasons and results until age 3. Providing a reason for your requests

So if your toddler ignores your request, it can be easy to mistake it for disobedience—when really it’s a matter of development and understanding.

Disclaimer: This page is not intended to provide medical advice about your child. Always seek the advice of a physician, qualified healthcare provider or child-development specialist with any questions you have about your child's health, medical condition or development. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you read here.

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