— For Youth

Teaching Kids to Follow


Podcast: Creating a foundation for success with Following Instructions

Suggestions for parents when teaching the skill of Following Instructions

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Always start by practicing something simple. Depending on your child’s age, you might choose putting away a specific toy, setting the table for dinner, etc. Even choosing things your child already does well, by keeping the task simple, your child is able to focus on learning the steps to Following Instructions.

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Practice at a neutral time. That looks different in every home, but find a low-pressure, calm, enjoyable time to rehearse this skill.

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If your child is having difficulty completing a task, try breaking it down to simpler steps. For example, if you want them to clean their room, start by asking them to make their bed first. It is more specific and less overwhelming. When they complete that step and let you know that the task is finished, then give them another portion of the job.

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As your child strengthens their ability to complete small tasks, advance to more difficult or complex tasks slowly. If your child struggles to progress, it’s okay to keep the tasks simple. Some children require tasks to be broken down well into their teenage years and even young adulthood.

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Use Effective Praise whenever they finish a task appropriately to reinforce the skill and strengthen your relationship.

After practicing the same situation numerous times, tell your child you will ask them to do something later that day or the next day and that you will see if they remember the steps. This prepares them to practice it later.

Offer a small reward when you see signs of progress when teaching kids to Follow Instructions (see the skill Effective Positive Rewards to find the right one).