Help Your Child Follow Directions

Tips to Help Your Child Follow Directions

A child’s ability to follow directions is an important milestone to achieve.  Being able to complete directions helps a child to achieve other speech-language milestones.  Below you will find helpful hints for working on following directions with your child.

1.  Give simple directions

For example, tell your child “Get shoes” instead of saying “Can you please go get your shoes, honey”.  Adding extra words may only confuse your child if he / she has difficulty following directions.

2.  Start small

If your child has difficulty following simple directions, start there.  Begin working on simple one-step directions (i.e., “Put the ball in the bag”).  After your child has mastered simple one-step directions you can add on to that.  A child should be able to follow simple one-step commands at around 18 months.

3.  Slowly get bigger

After your child has mastered one-step directions you can work on two and three-step commands.  A child should be able to follow 2-step commands (i.e., “Give me your shoes and then sit down”) by 33 months and 3-step commands should be mastered by 36 months.

4.  Be Specific

Give directions that are specific.  Instead of saying “Please clean your room”, tell your child, “put the toys in the bag”.  Children are more likely to understand directions that are to the point.

5.  Ask your child to repeat the question

Encourage your child to repeat instructions back to you.  This will help him / her understand what you are asking.

6.  Use positives

Try to give your child positive commands instead of negative commands.  For example in place of “don’t be mean to your sister” say “give your sister the book”.  You could also say “walk” instead of “don’t run”.  If you give your child a negative instruction, he / she may be confused and attempt to run because he / she does not understand the meaning of “don’t”.

Key Therapies, LLC offers speech-language and feeding therapy services in Chicago and Northwest suburbs. If you have questions or concerns about your child, call us at (312) 715-7218 to schedule your FREE screening and consultation!

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