Your child has been playing and their toys are strewn all over the living room. You call into the other room, "Pick up your toys and come in here for dinner!" 10 minutes later, you walk out and nothing has changed. Your child is laying in the middle of the pile of toys playing on their tablet. You're frustrated and then the excuses start... "I didn't hear you." or "I forgot."
Does your child have difficulty remembering multiple step directions?
Try some of these tips:
1) Make sure they are looking at you when you give them directions to limit distractions. We get it, life is busy. You're making dinner and time is short. Taking a couple more steps into the living room and asking them to look you in the eye may save you time and energy when they actually do what you're asking them to do!
2) Keep your language simple and specific. Try saying “Pick up the dinosaur toys and put them in this basket” instead of “clean up your room.” Sometimes we give children, especially young children, directions that are too broad. Children get overwhelmed by large tasks just like we do. Keep it simple.
3) Start with one-step directions, then gradually increase the complexity of the tasks (some children cannot handle more than one-step at a time). This goes hand-in-hand with keeping it simple and specific. If your child has difficulty following one-step directions like, "Get your shoes," they are not going to be able to handle, "Go get your shoes (from the bedroom) and your coat (from the living room)."
4) Say the directions then ask them to repeat it after you. For example,
you could say: “Go get your shoes from your closet and put them on. What are you going to do?” They repeat it back to you. Then you can say, "Go!" Making a game out of it by challenging them to remember what you asked, adds motivation and helps them move faster!