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Following Directions

Have you ever been frustrated with your child for not listening or not following your directions? This may be because your directions are too complicated!

Many children have difficulty understanding multi-step directions. Others simply need more time to process something, especially if it is a longer or more complicated sentence. The direction “take off your shoes”, for example, is one-step, and therefore relatively simple. For some children, something even easier to understand may be the spoken direction “take off” accompanied by pointing to their shoes (to communicate what needs to be taken off). A direction is also easier to understand if it’s built into a routine, such as “take off shoes” every time you come home or “wash hands” before each meal.

The direction of “take off your shoes, put them by the door, and meet me in the kitchen” is multi-step and thus far more complicated. If you think your child might have difficulty with multi-step directions, try starting with simple, single-step directions and slowly working up from there.

It is fun and easy to work on directions during play time! For example, you could play with a ball and alternate between “roll ball” and “throw ball”. Make sure to make lots of eye contact and demonstrate these directions first. Another game that works well is Simon Says! Also, you can work on following directions while coloring (“Draw a cat then draw a circle. Now my turn! What should I draw?”).

Find more ideas for activities to encourage speech & language development here:

Have fun and let us know if you have any questions!

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