Quick tips to help with following directions
- Quick tip 1Get rid of distractions.Get rid of distractions.
Make it easier to “hear” directions by limiting distractions. If possible, find a space that’s away from a lot of noise, movement, or clutter.
Many people — kids and adults — have trouble following directions. They don’t seem to “listen” when they’re asked to do a task, whether it’s taking out the garbage or taking care of a pet. Even if there’s a negative consequence, they don’t do what they’re supposed to do.
Why does that happen?
It might seem like laziness or a lack of respect. But when people frequently don’t follow directions, there’s often something else going on.
When people have trouble following directions, the results are clear — things don’t get done, or they get done poorly. But people may also struggle in ways that seem confusing or not directly related.
For example, kids and adults might:
- Get easily frustrated when trying to do something
- Agree to do something and then not do it
- Look away or zone out when being given directions
- Get halfway through a task and then stop
- Say they did something when they didn’t
There are different reasons people struggle with directions. It's not a matter of intelligence, but rather challenges with specific skills.
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About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.
Bob Cunningham, EdM serves as executive director of learning development at Understood.