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The Best Way to Get Your Child to Follow Directions

getting kids to listen

By Kelly Young, LMSW
Director of Evidence-Based Initiatives, KVC Kansas 

This article is the second in a 13-part series on parenting skills. See previous articles.

It happens to every parent – you want your child to do something but they don’t do it. You’re forced to repeat yourself multiple times, eventually resorting to begging, pleading, even making threats to try and get your child to comply. This is a common frustration felt among parents everywhere, and luckily, there is a solution for getting your kids to listen to you.

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It may come as a surprise to you, but children don’t follow directions because of the way parents typically give directions. You can probably identify with several of the ways below:


  • (in a very loud voice) “You never do what you’re supposed to do. Why can’t you be like other kids?”

Making threats

  • “If you don’t pick up your clothes, I’m going to throw them in the trash.”

Giving unclear/vague directions

  • “Let’s not do that anymore.” 

Using too many words

  • “Now, after you finish making your bed, you need to get dressed, comb your hair, brush your teeth…” 

Asking a question

  • “How about eating your food at the table?”

Using stop commands

  • “Stop yelling! Don’t do that!” 

So exactly how do you get your kids to follow directions and listen to you the first time? Find out by clicking the banner below and downloading our FREE eBook, The Most Effective Way to Teach Your Kids to Follow Directions.

Giving Good Directions eBook