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Listen and Learn!

For kids, learning to follow instructions is mostly about listening.

The steps to following instructions are pretty easy. They are:

  • Look at the person who is talking to you.
  • Say "Okay" as soon as he or she is through.
  • Do what you've been asked to do right away.
  • Check back when you're finished.

But there are a few other things you can do to make your skill teaching even more effective. 

  • Be genuine! If you want your child to really listen to you when you are talking, you must model good listening skills. So, when your child is telling you something, look at him or her and use your eyes, your ears, and your body language to show that you're paying attention and really trying to understand what he or she is saying. 
  • Play the game Simon Says with your child to practice both listening and following instruction skills.
  • Pump up the positives. Catch your kids doing something right and notice it! The more often you sincerely praise your child for listening and following instructions, the harder he or she will work in the future to earn additional approval from you. 
  • Keep teaching and instruction explanations short. It is very difficult for a child to listen intently for longer than five minutes. Don't use sixty words to explain something if you can do it in six.
  • Don't give too many instructions at once. Use a step-by-step approach filled with pauses and praise as your child does what you ask.
  • Let your child know when it's time to "actively listen."  You can use catch phrases like "1, 2, 3-Look at me!" or "Give me 5 minutes of your time!" to alert kids that it's time to pay attention and listen. Have your child make up an original jingle.