Following Instructions

Next Lesson:

Correcting Behaviors

Effective Negative Consequences lesson link

Where to begin

  1. Watch the lesson video on your own first, so you are familiar with the skill before teaching it to your child.
  2. Print out the steps to Following Instructions for easy reference and place where they are easy to see.
  3. Practice (Role-play) a situation your child can easily do until they have mastered each step and can do them easily. Practice multiple times and praise them when they get it right.
  4. Once your child can easily follow instructions for this situation, try a little more difficult situation for them to do.
  5. Continue to practice using various situations. The more your child practices Following Instructions, the more it will become second nature to them, and they are more apt to respond this way in the future.
  6. Always remember to praise your child when they complete things correctly.

Suggestions for parents when teaching this skill

  • Always start by practicing using something simple for your child to do. Such as put away a specific toy, get out the cups for dinner, etc. These simple task helps them understand the steps easily.
  • Practice at a neutral time.
  • If your child is having difficulty completing a task, try breaking down the task 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. Move on to something else in the room after they finish the first task.
  • As your child can complete simple tasks move on to tasks that are more difficult for them to accomplish.
  • 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 if they do it correctly at a later date.

Help, Activities, and Testimonials

The key to successfully implementing this skill and having it followed consistently is to (role-play) the situations multiple times. The benefits of practicing or role-playing a situation are:

  • It builds confidence.
  • Children develop listening and reacting skills.
  • Provides children with creative problem solving skills.
  • Prepares them for situations that may difficult to address in the moment.
  • Establishes set rules and expectations from parents clearly for children to understand.
  • Helps children know what to do in stressful situations.

The following article may be helpful to review.

Classroom Aid provides this in-depth article on why role-playing and practicing are essential to learning.

Make Playdough

How to use this activity

A simple way to make play-dough with your child. It requires two ingredients and at the end you and your child will have a sweet smelling play-dough to enjoy together. Watch the video for more information. Materials needed: cornstarch and conditioner (for hair).


How to use this activity

Use this for younger children who struggle remembering the steps. Practice the steps and for every step completed you can give them a stamp. Feel free to use other items as a reward for remembering the steps. We recommend using stamps as they are easy to do. Increase the difficulty as your child remembers each of the steps. Materials needed: ink stamps already made or create your own and paper.

Bead Necklace

How to use this activity

Providing something for your child as a reminder of completing the task helps them also prepare for future instances where they will need to use the skill again. It helps them remember the skill, especially during the course of a day when things can be busy. You can use bead necklaces or a variation based on your child and their interests. Materials Needed: Beaded necklaces or a necklaces of some kind.

Homemade Water Rocket

How to use this activity

Be sure to supervise your child during the course of this activity. It does require a few materials to create but it is great fun to create and watch. You can also use this activity to talk about emotion control and emotions build up over time. Materials needed: an empty two-liter bottle, two cups of water, 1 cup of vinegar, a wood board with a screw at least two inches or longer, cork, duct tape, paper towel and two Tablespoons of baking soda.




Alan discusses how he has used this skill and offers suggestions.


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Parenting SkillsFollowing Instructions