(The following is from Alphabee Services)
Getting your children to follow instructions is one of the most basic parts of IBI/ABA programming, but can also be the most difficult. Here are some tips to make things a little bit easier.
1. KEEP IT SIMPLE
Be clear about what you want. Too much talking or explaining can just confuse the situation and even be overwhelming for your child. Start with simple instructions in familiar settings that are easier to control (eg. at home). Once you have this under control try less familiar environments, like the park or grocery store or alternatively, more difficult requests (in that same familiar environment).
2. ONE REQUEST, ONE ACTION
Stick with one instruction or request at a time. If you want your child to put on their shoes, stick with that request until those shoes are on before you start asking them to do other things. Once again, asking for more than one thing at a time can make the situation overwhelming and confusing.
3. FOLLOW THROUGH!
This is so important. Once you have made a request of your child make sure you follow through. In other words, you may have to prompt them to complete the task that you have asked. It can be as simple as asking them to “sit down” to the dreaded “brush your teeth”. Avoid negotiations and power struggles, keep focused on your task at hand. And, always make sure your request is reasonable and doable for your child!
Once your child has done what you have asked make sure you reward them with something tangible that they love (candy, toy, tickles) or with lots of praise and enthusiasm. We want them to be motivated to listen to your request the next time, and the more they associate listening with positive consequences, the more likely they are to repeat that behaviour in the future.
Above all else, stay calm. The more you keep your cool, the easier it is for everyone to be successful and happy.