No to Assumptions. Yes to Meaningfulness.

Updated: Jan 10

"Don't blame the follower not following; blame the leader not leading."

This does not apply to all situations, but parents should ask themselves "What am I doing wrong?" when their children are not following instructions.


We are adults and children do not know more than us. Children learn from us and are led by us. We get frustrated when our instruction is not being followed by children. But, perhaps we should get frustrated because our instruction is not being comprehended by children?

As educators and parents, we need to apprehend the capacity of children's understanding. At work, we spend many hours to convey our ideas to intelligent co-workers, managers and investors. At home, if we expect that 10 minutes is enough time for our children to understand our reasoning, that is nonsense.


No to assumption. Yes to meaningfulness. We often assume that children should have knowledge of something from what they should have learned in the past, or sometimes even expect them to know things that we had not learned until adulthood. Children do not care as we do, nor do they have the knowledge, so we have to educate and teach them the skills and knowledge to survive.

From my teaching experience, I have learned to give clear instruction with a definite purpose. This way, my students can follow and learn faster and more effectively as time progresses. I truly believe there are no bad students, only bad teachers.


No to Assumption

If you want to encourage people to do something, make it easy, according to Richard H. Thaler, Professor of Behavior Science in Nudge in TED Radio
Specific instructions will speed up the learning process for individual who understand them (Ziegler, 1987).

Clear instruction means to be understandable and easy to execute. Catering our instruction to each child’s capacity and knowledge toward the task, we want to make sure that they understand and feel fine to put some effort to achieve the goal of the instruction. For example: Our boss assigns a project that usually takes 6 months, but wants us to finish it in 3 weeks; and provides little instruction. Most likely, people will give up because walking in the dark is hard and running in the dark is impractical.

Then, just as we confront our boss, children confront their parents when the tasks are too difficult for them to accomplish. When this happens, parents sometime blame-“How come you do not know this?!” Not understanding that their children may even be trying to impress them by doing something out of their capacity, parents can be quick in asking: “How come you did such a bad job?!”...and the parent-child relationship worsens. Remember, regardless, children always try to impress their parents.