Child occupational therapy helps kids follow instructions

Our child occupational therapists work with kids in Brisbane north, helping them fulfil their occupational roles in their everyday life. For kids, occupational roles include son, daughter, friend, player, drawer, brother, sister, instruction follower and more.

Being a successful instruction follower means first being able to attend to the instructions and keep their body regulated long enough to assist their brain to take on the instruction, make sense of it and follow through.

If a child cannot keep their body regulated long enough to even attend to you, they have very little chance of taking on what you are saying. Once they are regulated, they then need to be able to process what you are saying or demonstrating, organise it in their mind and then respond to it.

Some children do better hearing things and some do better seeing things. Try giving instructions in different ways to see which your child responds to better. Think about yourself – you probably remember things better depending how it is delivered.

To help your child to follow directions, let’s take a bit of sensory perspective. Here are some steps you can take to help your child have the best chance of following the instruction:

  1. Ensure there isn’t something you are competing with to get the direction across, such as the TV, another child, a bright sun shining in etc.
  2. Ensure they are able to look at you and focus on what you are saying and visually doing.
  3. Couple your words with an action so it consolidates what you are asking them to do (e.g. when you say ‘go and clean your teeth’, pretend to brush your teeth and point at your teeth).
  4. Give them time to process and respond, rather than asking if they understand or repeating the direction straight away.

If you are still having difficulty, our child occupational therapy specialists are here to help. Give Cooee Speech Pathology a call if you have any questions.