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Listening Is the Key

​This information is included in our Guide to Communication Skills. Click here to see the rest of the guide.

For grandkids, learning to follow instructions is mostly about listening.

The steps to following instructions are pretty easy. They are:

  • Look at the person who is talking to you.
  • Say “okay” as soon as he or she is through.
  • Do what you’ve been asked to do right away.
  • Check back when you’re finished.

But there are a few other things you can do as a grandparent to make your skill teaching even more effective.

  • Be genuine! If you want your grandchild to really listen to you when you are talking, you must model good listening skills. So, when your grandchild is telling you something, look at him or her and use your eyes, your ears and your body language to show that you’re paying attention and really trying to understand what he or she is saying. 
  • Play the game “Simon Says” with your grandchild to practice both listening and following instruction skills.
  • Pump up the positives. Catch your grandkids doing something right and notice it! The more often you sincerely praise your grandchild for listening and following instructions, the harder he or she will work in the future to earn approval from you. 
  • Keep teaching and instruction explanations short. It is very difficult for a child to listen intently for longer than five minutes. Don’t use sixty words to explain something if you can do it in six.
  • Don’t give too many instructions at once. Use a step-by-step approach filled with pauses and praise as your grandchild does what you ask.
  • Let your grandchild know when it’s time to “actively listen.” You can use catch phrases like “1, 2, 3…Look at me!” or “Give me 5… minutes of your time!” to alert kids that it’s time to pay attention and listen. Have your grandchild make up an original jingle.

The better your grandkids learn to listen – by watching you and understanding why listening is important – the more and the faster they will learn the skills, like following instructions, you are trying to teach.

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