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Sixty Second Parenting Tip - Following Instructions (ages 2-4)

Young children get quickly distracted by a toy or fun activity and simply forget. They can appear to be listening when in fact they are not paying attention at all. Not listening or tuning the parent or teacher out can become a habit. A big part of getting your child to listen is learning how to give simple, clear instructions.


To help young children learn how to follow and remember instructions use the following ideas:

  • Always establish and maintain eye contact while speaking.
  • Have your child repeat back the instruction so you know they have heard and understood.
  • Think about back ground noise - if you want your child to really listen to you then make your voice the only sound he can hear. When giving instructions turn off the TV, games, radio or music.
  • Do not keep repeating instructions to your child or he will learn to tune you out.
Make sure your child follows up your instructions with action. Back-up not following of  instructions with consequences. For example if the cars are not picked up then they are put out of reach for a week.

When giving instructions keep them to about two steps for example - "Please pick up your jacket off the floor and hang it on this door." The older the child the more steps you can give.

Be very specific "Put the cars in the toy box" will communicate to your child exactly what you want them to do. Saying "Tidy your room" can be very overwhelming to a child.Praise your child for listening  when he completes the task.

Here is a simple game you can play with your child to help them follow and remember instructions:

Simon Says is a great game to get your child to listen - To play the game you instruct the child to do certain tasks beginning each instruction with "Simon Says". For example - "Simon Says touch your toes", "Simon says touch something red", "Simon Says jump up and down". The idea is that if you do not say "Simon says" in front of the instruction the child must not do it. For example if you say "Touch your nose"  the child must not do it. Children really have to listen to not get caught out.

Sixty Second Parent offers a unique and fresh approach to obtaining practical parenting advice. They understand that the expectations and pressures put on parents today are more complex than ever before and thus the need for a simpler support system for parents and families. Visit them at

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