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The ADHD Book of Lists: A Practical Guide for Helping Children and Teens with Attention Deficit Disorders, 2nd Edition by Sandra F. Rief

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2.4 Tips for Giving Directions and Increasing Compliance

Strategies and Tips for Parents

Get Their Attention

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  • First, get your child's attention directly before giving directions. This means face-to-face and direct eye contact, not just calling out what you expect your child to do.
  • Physically cue your child prior to giving directions, if needed; for example, gently turn your child's face to look at you.
  • Do not attempt to give directions to your child if you are competing with the distractions of TV, video games, or when he or she is using the iPad or other electronic device. Pause or turn those devices off first.

Communicate Clearly and Effectively

  • Keep verbal directions clear, brief, and to the point. Eliminate unnecessary talking and elaboration. State what you want with as few words as possible, for example, “Please come to the table now.”
  • Always check for understanding of directions. Have your child repeat or rephrase what you asked him or her to do.
  • Show your child what you want him or her to do. Model and walk through the steps.
  • Break down tasks into smaller steps that you want to get done. Give one step at a time.
  • Use a visual chart of tasks or chores depicting the steps or sequence of what your child is expected to do. With young children, for example, make a morning routine chart showing pictures of (1) clothing, (2) cereal bowl, (3) a hairbrush and toothbrush. A clothespin ...

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