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How To Get Children To Follow Directions – 10 Simple Tips

 follow directions

Directions are an essential part of our everyday lives, and they are something that we should be able to follow when we’re younger in order to prepare ourselves for future engagements. With that said, it is important that adults also teach children how to follow directions so they can engage in basic situations or tasks without being completely lost. But, helping children to follow directions is not an easy thing to do. It requires patience, practice, and attention to detail where you know what to say and how to say it. 

Luckily, there are many ways for you to help your child develop this behavior. These tips for parents will teach you how to use some very simple methods, which will give your child the proper tools and information needed to follow directions. The more you practice with your child, the easier it will be to get them to do what they are supposed to do. But first, let’s explore and understand why kids have trouble following directions:

Why Does My Kid Have Trouble Following Directions?

There are times when kids don’t seem to listen when they are told to do a task, whether taking care of a pet or taking out the garbage. Even if there is a consequence, children don’t do what they are supposed to do. It can be overwhelming for many parents, especially when you notice the behaviors that your child does not follow. So why does that happen?

  • There are reasons why children don’t follow your directions. Sometimes children don’t listen because they aren’t clear of what the task is and what the expectations are. Parents often give broad and unclear directions where children will get confused and make mistakes in carrying them out.
  • Another reason is some children want to show off what they can do and want their parents’ approval and attention. They want you to look at what they have done and give them praise and attention. If your child feels that way, he will purposely not do what you ask because you don’t pay enough attention to him.
  • Lastly, a child has trouble with executive function; it is a group of skills required to get through tasks. Some children also have a difficult time understanding language or processing information. When children have trouble following directions, the results are things don’t get done, or they get done poorly.

Indeed, it is hard to get your child to follow directions, especially if they don’t know what to do. In order to get your young child to follow your directions as well as stay on task, you must stay calm and patient. At Baby Steps Daycare, it is our goal to help parents alleviate the challenges that they face when trying to get children to follow directions. Below are tips on how to get your child to follow directions:

10 Tips To Help Children Follow Directions

1. Ask for Your Kid’s Attention

ask your kids attention

Before starting a conversation, ask your child’s attention. It will help them listen and focus on what you’re about to say. Ask for your kid’s attention by saying, “I need to talk with you.” Or, ” I want your attention for a moment.” Some children have a hard time with nonverbal aspects of language. Asking your little one to look towards you instead of looking you in the eyes takes that into account. So to make things easier, you can make it by moving into your kid’s line of sight. 

2. Minimize Any Distractions

When you have your kid’s attention, you may want to keep it. So, one of the ideal things to do is minimize any distractions. Kids are more likely to follow when they are focused on what they have to do, and they don’t have anything else, making them lose their concentration. To minimize distractions, keep a room in which the task is performed very clean of all objects or useless items. Turn off the TV. Ask your little one to put down the book or game. Make sure your little one is looking toward you. This way, your child won’t be distracted by anything unnecessary that might take his focus away from what he has to do. 

3. Speak Gently

speak gently to a child

Although it might seem, kids don’t understand the subtle message. It is best if you speak respectfully to them when you talk to them. If you speak too loudly, they may miss the message, or the little one will only associate your voice with yelling. When speaking gently, his attention will be focused on what you are saying, and he will listen more attentively. Always use a pleasant tone and a quiet voice so that your child can hear and understand clearly. 

4. Use “Wait Time.”

Even if your kid is listening to you, he might still be confused. You might want to give him a moment to understand what you said. Using a “wait time” will benefit both of you. It gives the child to think about what you are saying and process the direction completely. This way, the little one is not likely to make mistakes. 

5. Check Children For Understanding

After telling your kids a direction, make sure that they understand it by repeating its instructions or doing what was asked of them. Ask your kids if they understand what they are supposed to do and wait for the correct response after asking their understanding of the task before starting it up again.

6. Tell Children, Don’t Ask

tell, don't ask

Asking your child to do something will only make them feel you’re giving them a choice. Instead of asking, tell your child what to do by saying things like, “Come here now.” Or, “Pick up the trash right now.” This way, the message is clear, and there is no question in the child’s mind. 

7. Give Your Child Instructions One At a Time

Some children have a hard time following instructions all at once. They get confused and don’t know exactly how to get it done correctly. To ensure that your child follows instructions correctly and completely, give instructions one at a time. As you give each instruction, watch to make sure that your child completes it correctly. 

8. Number Your Directions

If you have many different things to tell your child, try numbering them. It will help your little one in remembering them easily and in the right order. When talking to your kid, explain which directions are first and second until the last instruction. 

9. Be Precise In Things You Say

be precise in things you say

Children don’t always understand how to follow instructions. As parents, we sometimes give instructions too vaguely, and that’s why kids get confused about what we say because they don’t know exactly what is expected of them or what they need to do. It is best to give precise instructions instead of vague ones. For instance, when you say “Move your stuff,” what do you mean exactly? Is it a book or a toy? It can cause the child to wonder what they should do and how to do it. Be precise in things you say so that the kid can understand them clearly. 

10. Make Use Of Visual Cues

As an adult, you may think that children know what you’re talking about and can understand exactly what you mean. It is not always the case. A child may not do what you are asking them to do simply because they don’t understand it. For instance, if you say “pick up the ball,” how will they know what a ball is? You must use visual cues to help them understand your instructions more clearly. If your kid asks, “How do I pick it up?” Tell them, “Just like this.” while demonstrating how to pick it up. Visual cues are really helpful and must be used when giving directions so that children can easily follow and remember them better.

Aside from these tips, there are also other ways to help children improve their ability to follow directions. And that is by playing games with them. The following are old-fashioned games that are fun and beneficial for children’s development. 

4 Fun Following Directions Activities for Children

  • Simon Says – Simon says it is a game that is mostly played at home or in playgrounds. It involves following the instructions of the leader when he says, “Simon Says.” If your child isn’t familiar with the game, they will listen to the leader and do what he tells them to do. But if the child makes mistakes, they’ll be given a consequence like being made to stand in a corner. In playing this game with your kid, you can use it as an opportunity to practice directions by telling him what to do and when he shouldn’t. 
  • Red Light, Green Light – In this game, the leader will say “red light.” It means that all kids must stop what they are doing and stand still. When he says “green light,” they will resume their tasks. Red Light, Green Light game helps make your kid follow directions and teaches them how to play well with others because they have to coordinate with each other. 
  • Follow The Leader – You’ll be given a task and told to do it in this game. The leader will give you instructions like, “Follow me.” And then he will walk in a certain direction. You must follow him in the same direction. If you make an error, you’ll be made to do something. Playing this game with your kid will help him get used to following directions and practicing his coordination and flexibility. They also get a chance to improve their observational skills while having fun doing activities. 
  • Map Game – Map Game is another game to help your child practice following directions. It is easy to perform, and your child will enjoy it.

Final Thoughts

Helping your children improve their ability to follow directions properly will aid them in performing better in school and in other settings such as playing sports or participating in group activities. And they will also be able to do a lot of other things better. You can help them improve by giving them directions, using visual clues, or playing fun games that involve following the directions.

We at Baby Steps Daycare understand how challenging it is to guide little ones and have them follow directions. So we aim to provide parents with valuable information they can use in their parenting journey. We hope these tips can help you in guiding your kids in the right direction. If you have further questions regarding ways to help children follow directions, don’t hesitate to contact us today.