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How Can I Help My Child Learn to Follow Directions?

Is your child having difficulty following directions? If you repeatedly ask your child to do something and they just can’t seem to make it happen you are likely quite frustrated. But how can you tell if it is a behavioral problem or something more? Often receptive language delays appear to be behavior issues and dishing out time-outs and other consequences do nothing to change the behavior pattern.

What is Normal for Ability to Follow Instructions?

By age 1-2 they should be able to follow single step instructions. By 2-3 they should be able to handle a two-part command such as “go to the kitchen and get your cup.” And by 3-4 years old they should be able to follow three-part instructions. If your child is behind at any of these ages, you may seek help from a speech-language pathologist.

How Does Speech Therapy Help a Child Follow Instructions?

The first step in getting your child help with following instructions is to consult a speech therapist. Through a thorough evaluation, the speech therapist will be able to determine if your child needs speech therapy, occupational therapy, or both.

Speech therapy will address issues with receptive language skills. Receptive language is the part of our language skillset that involves understanding words and language. When a child is not understanding what is being asked of them they may quit paying attention, become bored, and have behavioral issues (especially in an academic setting.)

Other Issues That Might Go Hand-in-Hand with Difficulty in Following Instructions

Additional issues may come up when a child has receptive language difficulties. They may not be able to answer questions or respond to requests appropriately. This challenge to communicate can present itself in a variety of ways including but not limited to difficulties listening, difficulties paying attention, inability to follow instructions, responding to questions by repeating the question or other unusual responses, or difficulty listening to stories.

If any of this sounds like your child it is important to have a therapist involved as soon as you recognize the problem. Without intervention, children with receptive language challenges can experience further challenges with executive function, sensory processing, expressive language, literacy, social skills and more.

At Child Language and Developmental Speech we will work closely with you to develop a plan to address all the issues that are related to your child’s difficulty in following directions. Not only will our speech therapist provide custom intervention for your child during their session, but they will also communicate ideas to you to carry out at home to further the progression of your child. With a team effort and fun, easy to implement ideas we can help your child improve their ability to follow instructions at home, school, and anywhere else they go. Give us a call today to schedule your child’s evaluation. 704-845-0561