My oldest recently discovered the following joke:

“Pete and Re-Pete were in a boat. Pete fell in. Who was left in the boat?”

The answer, of course, is Re-Pete and she immediately starts the joke all over again.

Using the Repeat Back

Repetition is an incredibly powerful tool. In the joke, it drives the humor. Rehearsing or reviewing information is a strategy that all of us for remembering things. In my office, we use a strategy called the repeat back to ensure that everyone in a meeting understands what was agreed to. By rephrasing what the decision was or what an action step was, we verbalize what will happen when the meeting ends.

The beauty of the repeat back is that it isn’t a full rehash of everything that just occurred. It sticks to key points and allows for a discussion if one of the meeting attendees didn’t have the same understanding as others. With our kids, the repeat back can be a valuable tool for helping to make sure that they understand directions.

Picture of child with parenting advice - Using a repeat back can help make sure directions are understood.

The strategy is pretty simple. When you give your child directions, ask them what they are supposed to do. If they have it mixed up, help them understand what your expectations are.

Strategies for Giving Kids Directions

It’s also helpful to remember how to give kids directions.

  1. Are they paying attention?
  2. Be explicit about what the action is and when it needs to be done.
  3. Don’t phrase it as a question. The response could be “No!”
  4. For younger children, only give one direction at a time.
  5. Ask them to repeat back what you’ve asked them to do.

You can also take a look at this post for help on how to be a better listener as a parent. Now it’s time for you to use a “repeat back” with me.