Giving Effective Instructions

You may notice that packaging and delivering information slightly differently to your child with ADHD can result in better outcomes.   Giving instructions can be one of those moments. ADHD affects executive function skills specifically the ability to plan and prioritize things so organizing your words clearly can help boost your daughter’s ability to follow instructions logically.  Here are some effective strategies for giving clear instructions:

  1. Be specific.  Instead of ‘go get ready for school,’ give your child specific directions such as ‘brush your teeth’ or ‘get dressed with the clothes laid out on your bed.’  The younger your child is, the fewer instructions her brain can handle.
  2. Be Concise.  Less is more.  As stated above, the younger your child is, the fewer instructions they will be able to hold in their working memory.  Give one instruction and ask them to check back in with you when it’s completed.
  3. Make a routine of it.  For instructions that relate to a particular routine such as morning or bedtime try to encourage your child to do them in the same order.  This will help get them sealed into longterm memory.
  4. Write all routines down.  Having a central place with routines listed is a great way to remind your child what to do, what comes next and what to prioritize.
Allison Tyler

Allison Tyler is an author, a licensed clinical social worker with over 17 years experience, and founder of ADHD Strategy Mom. She believes that all individuals with ADHD can learn new skills and strategies to not only help them to live but to thrive in our neurodiverse world. Using a blend of motivational, cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness techniques, She teaches specific approaches and strategies to help strengthen executive function skills.

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