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How do I get my child to follow directions?

My 9-year-old daughter has a hard time following directions the first time she is asked. Do you have any advice to help us teach her to follow directions better?

Heather | Expert


One reason a child might not succeed when following directions is that she could be tuning out the person requesting her attention. My daughter has the same issue. We figured that it is because she sees her world in pink and her mind is always elsewhere. 

We have to snap her out of her thoughts and really get her attention before she hears us. Children at this age also become more creative and they are always thinking about things. If you and the teacher can say her name clearly and get eye contact, then she will probably do better at following instructions. 

Also, keep in mind that young minds can only process one thing at a time. If you string a list of instructions together, then she won't remember all of them. If these things don't work, then it wouldn't hurt to get her hearing checked or perhaps she might have a high functioning disability that hasn't been caught yet. Sometimes children can be so intelligent that if they have a disability, it might be overlooked and that can put them at a disadvantage.
The key to all of this is to be persistent. You will be exhausted staying on top of it, but it will pay off in the long run when she grows to be an outstanding adult. Hang in there.

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