Typically, if you set a box of building blocks (Legos, K’Nex, waffle blocks, etc.) in front of a kid, they grab blocks and start building. Most don’t necessarily care what color of block they’re getting. When a kiddo wants to play with building blocks, it’s easy to turn it into a compliance activity. I have a Lego set with yellow, blue, green, and red Legos. I usually get some arguing and whining from children if I turn it into a compliance activity and tell them they can only use two colors. It’s a great way to practice following directions and following through, as it can be hard for the kiddo to accept.
I’ve gotten lots of great responses, such as:
- “Why?” (CLASSIC)
- “But can I just use this one red?”
- “But then I won’t be able to build it!”
- “How come you get to use those ones?”
If I tell a kiddo that he can only use yellow and blue and he starts whining? Consequence. When he finally says “Ok?” Praise, praise, praise! Then I’ll let him build for a few minutes before switching up the colors by saying, “Ok, now you can only use red and blue.” Repeat with consequence for whining/arguing/noncompliance and praise for accepting and following through. Easy!
One of the top issues that parents want me to work on with their child is compliance. Parents will tell me that their child will follow through with only 0-1 out of 10 directions on the first time asked. How frustrating! An easy activity for increasing compliance is coloring – so easy! You can print free coloring pages online and use crayons/markers/colored pencils.
All you have to do is give them the direction to color a portion of the picture a certain color. Then wait to see if they complete the steps to following directions (say “ok” and do the task). EASY PEASY! You can provide direct feedback and continue this until the entire picture is complete. Direct feedback might sound like this: “you did a great job of coloring with the crayon I told you, but you forgot to say ‘ok.’ Next time I want to hear you say ‘ok’ first.”
Many kiddos will be completely compliant with this activity during the session because they like coloring and like it a whole lot more than being told to brush their teeth. What I will do sometimes with kiddos is pick a coloring page of cartoon characters they know (Paw Patrol or Frozen, for example) and have them color characters the WRONG color. I’m no expert on Paw Patrol, but I’m pretty sure the fire fighter dog is wearing red. I get pretty strong reactions out of kiddos when I tell them to paint his hat purple and his sweater green. That’s a great opportunity to teach to kiddos about expectations and listening.
Also, I’ve had parents do this activity with their child during family therapy sessions as well. It’s all about the PRACTICE… if they can comply in my office, either with me or parents, then it makes it more likely that they will comply at home as well.