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How to Give Instructions That Children Can Follow Easily

Team StoryWeavers|June 21, 2022, 17:53 IST| 3

directions children can follow

One of the best ways of reducing, if not stopping, challenging behaviours and increasing adherence to parental requests is to give clear instructions to children. Most of the time, parents assume that they have given crystal clear instructions to their children when in fact the instructions are often vague or too complex. Giving instructions to children is a skill and requires practice. 

In this article, we will cover tips to remember while giving instructions to children. 

Things To Remember While Giving Instructions To Children

A book by Sandra Rief, How To Reach And Teach Children with ADD / ADHD, Practical Techniques, Strategies, and Interventions, covers tips and strategies that will help parents increase compliance to their requests. Although this book is focused on ADD/ ADHD children, these strategies will surely help parents of all children give effective instructions. 

  • Tell children what to do instead of what to avoid. Focus on something that children can start doing instead of focusing on something that they should stop doing. For example: Tell them to ‘Look at the speaker’ instead of ‘Don’t look down.’
  • Be precise. Do not leave any room for interpretation. For example: Saying ‘Be nice’ or ‘Show respect’ does not help children understand what to do or what is expected. Telling them something precise like  ‘Use kind words’ helps them understand what is expected of them. 
  • Do not ask questions. Give them the instructions with authority. It is best to avoid questions like ‘Can you start doing your homework?’ Say something like ‘Meena, start doing your homework.’
  • Give instructions in a distraction-free environment. Ask children to turn off the television or to pause a video while giving instructions. 
  • Break complex instructions into smaller chunks based on your child’s age and developmental stage. Give one instruction at a time to younger children. 
  • Always ask children if they have understood the instructions. Ask children to repeat the instructions in their own words. It will help you clarify any doubts children may have. 
  • Use a matter-of-fact tone while giving instructions and wait for ten to fifteen seconds for compliance. Reward children for following instructions promptly. Praise effectively by using The Kazdin Method to inspire behavioural change in children. 

Children are rarely disobedient because they want to make things difficult for you. Most of the time, children do not understand what is expected of them. Giving clear instructions is one way of letting them know what to do instead of what to avoid. It helps children focus and helps them follow through with parental requests. 

Did you find these tips helpful? Have you used any of these before? Tell us about your experience in the comments below. 

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About the Author

“Me-kha-la!” That happens at least once when she introduces herself to new people. She wholeheartedly believes in the quote by Arthur Rubinstein that says – “if you love life, life will love you back”. She is an organizational psychologist and psychometrician. She was a class teacher of 36 adorable girls for two years, grades 2 & 3, as a part of the Teach For India Fellowship. These little girls have a special place in her heart, and when she writes for children, she writes for them!

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Dilip Agarwal

July 21, 2021

BYJU’s app help my child larn math, science and English.

Priya Amol Tribhuwan

July 21, 2021

Tips are really helpful. I have already used one of these.Instruckting my child.Telling her to repeat the same.For mean to understand .


January 9, 2021

Byjus is very good . I love byjus than school .
Good content
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Best of luck


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