Precision Requests for 'Start Behavior'

I recently learned the art of the ‘precision request’ to get your kiddos moving when you are asking something of them (also referred to in 1-2-3 Magic as 'start behavior'). I don't get it - I really don't - but labeling my request as a 'precision request' to Preston not only gets his attention but also gets him moving. I have to play a stellar poker face when I whip this tool out and it actually works (kids sense parental victory and kick against it when they know what is going down). The way this works is that you have a chat with your kiddo and mention that when you ask something of them, you will only ask twice, third strike they are out to time-out. The format is that on request number one you use the word 'please.' Keeping mind in the proactive ways to improve compliance (two posts ago), you use a clear directive such as, “Preston, please set the table.” *Note, don't leave wiggle room and throw the word 'can' or something similar in there. This makes it 'optional.' Clear directive.
The second request removes the word please and becomes more directive. “Preston, I need you to set the table for dinner.” If there is non-compliance within five seconds of the second request, they go to time-out. Now, honestly, do you think your child with ADHD is going to hear the please in the first request and think, “Ooh! There is precision request number one!” When I first tried this out on Preston he didn't hear the difference in the requests either so I started labeling them, "Okay Preston, precision request number one. Please set the table for dinner." Just adding that label made the difference between compliance and non-compliance. I have been shocked that with labeling request one and two and waiting the five seconds in between each, actually gets him to do what I am asking and for the most part without a bunch of fuss! Sometimes he gripes and I'll offer him a choice: “You are welcome to set the table or do the dishes; which do you prefer?” All I can say is WOW! And WOO HOO!

Employ and Enjoy.

And regarding the pic above, some day I'll teach and actually get Preston to set the table as I did in the picture (it was the only picture I have at the moment that semi-works with the post). That will have to be the extra-mile precision request. Until then, I'm just happy if he gets off his duff and puts placemats on the table.


  1. I'm totally impressed if this actually works!! Nice job!!!


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