3 y.o. and listening/following directions - FamilyEducation
3 y.o. and listening/following directions
07/13/2007 at 01:09 AM

He just doesn't do it...much.  How do or did you work with your child on listening and following directions?  How does a 4 y.o.'s ability to listen and follow directions compare to that of a 3 y.o.  What is developmentally appropriate and what is personality/temperament?  I should tell you now that I do not spank, slap, etc. and I do not use traditional time-outs. 


Hey AttyZoeMom,


Welcome to the boards.  I never spanked my daughter and she did learn to follow directions.  In my experience 4 year olds are much better at following directions than 3 year olds.  At three I think that you have to make them very simple directions, one step at a time and make sure that you have their attention when you give the attention.  I would always make my daughter look at me when I was giving directions and then I would make her tell me what I just told her.  Then I would do the same thing with the next direction. 


If you are looking for punishment that is not time-out then I would say do a punishment that is a natural consquence.  Like, you don't pick up your toys then they are taken away from you.


Let us know how it goes.






My ds was so easily distracted at the age of three, they do need very simple instructions accompanied by guidance through those instructions at that age. That plus a short attention span means you probably won’t be able to just give an instruction and have them do it alone.



My four year old can now carry out simple instructions independently but is still distractible and must be reminded and given ways to stay on task. A big difference between three and four for us is that at three, he understood but needed assistance, now he understands and has a different idea or just plain disagrees, lol.



One resource I used to clarify communication with my kids is Haim Ginott’s “Between Parent and Child” because it gives clear examples of ways to speak to kids that they don’t tune out or become defensive against. It’s helped me find ways of making requests (giving instructions) that my kids feel positive about cooperating with. One of his most helpful tips is to use fewer rather than more words in explanations. A good guide is a sentence per year. More talking than that and they start to ignore the sound of your voice, lol. But at three, they do still need a lot of guidance, especially when there is more than one step to your request.