Teaching Your Toddler to Follow Directions

Teaching Your Toddler to Follow Directions from Red Door Pediatric Therapy

Teaching toddlers to follow directions is a subtle art. At Red Door Pediatric Therapy, we recognize this as a fundamental skill, vital for a child’s cognitive and social development. Learning to follow directions is a journey that begins almost as soon as a child can interact with the world around them.

1. The Early Stages: Infancy and Direction

The foundation of following directions is laid during infancy. Simple actions like waving ‘bye-bye’ or playing ‘peekaboo’ are early forms of direction-following that emerge around six to nine months. These interactions are not just playful; they’re the first steps in understanding and responding to verbal cues.

2. Progressing with Age: The 9 to 12-Month Milestone

As infants approach their first year, the complexity of directions increases. Parents might notice their child responding to commands like ‘give me’ or identifying body parts. This stage is crucial for developing their ability to understand and act on verbal instructions. At Red Door, we emphasize play-based activities, like giving high fives or covering eyes, to make this learning process engaging.

3. Enhancing Directional Skills: Creative Approaches

Incorporating books that require following directions is a delightful and effective method. Imagine the joy and learning as your child shakes a book or finds a character on a page. These activities not only enhance understanding of directions but also nurture early literacy skills.

4. Addressing Challenges in Direction-Following

If your child struggles with following directions, the key is to participate with them. Demonstrating the action or doing it alongside them provides a clear example and context, making it easier for them to grasp. This hands-on approach transforms potential frustration into a bonding and learning experience.

5. From Simple to Complex: Evolving with Age

As children grow, the types of directions they encounter evolve. Initially, they may follow related commands integrated into familiar routines. As they mature, introducing more unrelated and complex directions, like combining actions in a sequence, becomes essential for cognitive development. At Red Door, we encourage parents to gradually introduce these complexities, ensuring a smooth transition in their child’s learning curve.

6. Direct Commands vs. Questions: A Subtle Nuance

When instructing children, the use of direct commands often yields better results than questions. Children tend to respond more effectively to clear, concise instructions, a technique we find beneficial in our therapeutic approaches at Red Door.

The Path to Independence

Teaching toddlers to follow directions is more than just a developmental milestone; it’s a pathway to independence and effective communication. In the heart of North Dakota, families are embracing these techniques, contributing significantly to their children’s growth. At Red Door Pediatric Therapy, our experts in Beulah, Minot, Bismarck and Grand Forks are committed to guiding you through this journey, ensuring that each step your child takes is confident and informed.