The Instructional Routine

The Instructional routine is crucial because it:

  • builds character in the child.
  • Cooperation 
  • and responsibility 

How? Because a good Instructional Routine has a balance of:




and teamwork.

Here are the steps of The Instructional routine:

Stage 1

The parent: get close to the child. Don’t shout your instructions across the room or house. By getting close to the child,

  • it gives value to what you are about to say. For younger children, you may hold their hands and look them in the eye.
  • getting close to the child breaks the child’s concentration on what he/she is doing. They get to listen to what you have to say.
  • this increases cooperation.

The child– comes when called. Dr. Scott Turansky and Johanne Miller RN BSN in the book- Parenting Is Heart Work training manual:

“In fact, coming when called is a “preschool survival skill.”

They emphasize that older children need to come when called too. For younger children, you can make it a game. You may say, ” Pat, I want you to sit on the couch. When I call you, you come over and say, “what mom?”

When Pat comes over after you call him, validate him. Tell him he is learning how to obey. Use a lot of encouragement and praise.

Stage 2

Parent– evaluate your timing before you speak. If your child is upset, you need to deal with the situation first. Show empathy and that your relationship with him is more important than the instruction.

The child- children must be ready to receive instructions ALL the time though. In the instructional process, children learn,

  • how to give up their own agenda
  • to think about others instead of themselves.

Stage 3-make sure the child knows its NOT a suggestion

Parent: Give instructions. Make sure your child knows its not a suggestion, but an instruction. like you don’t say, “Pat, would you like to go take a bath, now.” You say, Pat let’s go to the bathroom. Its time to take a path.”

Use a calm, matter-of-fact voice. Avoid loudness and intensity, because it wears on the relationship.

Child: The child answers. ” okay, mom”

The response tells the parent 3 things:

  • the child heard what you said.
  • the child intends to follow through.
  • gives the parent a clue about the child’s attitude. If Pat says,” Okaaaaay Moooooom!” Then, you know you need to deal with the attitude.

Stage 4

The Tricky stage for most parents.

Parent– Wait expectantly. Don’t nag. Give your child time so they learn to be responsible. The child needs to feel uncomfortable until they are done with the assignment. You may remind the child wisely. ” Pat, I’m waiting”

Child: To do the job as if on a mission

Stage 5

The only stage the child starts

Child: Reports back to the parent.,” Here is the book mom/dad” Reporting back teaches children accountability. And the child will be showing that he/she knows that the job is important.

Parent: Inspects and releases, if the job needs some inspection. If the child needs to do some touch up tell him/her so. Praise for a job well done. Release by the parent gives the child a sense of freedom.


The time mom/dad spends adjusting the way they give instructions. And the way the son responds to them will dramatically improve their relationship. Thereby, making family life work more efficiently, and teaches the son valuable lessons for the future. When necessary the parent uses:

The Break to help the son think through things and repent.

The parent to continue praying and loving their child. Knowing change is a process. Even the Instructional routine can take a while for some kids to follow through. But, hey it’s doable. Keep on keeping on.