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Teaching a Toddler to Follow Directions

"Helpful" might not be the first word that jumps to mind when you think of a toddler. But as your child approaches 2, he'll learn a handy new skill: following directions.

Even if your young toddler isn't talking much, he'll be able to understand simple requests like "Please hand me your socks," explains Lise Eliot, Ph.D., author of What's Going On in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life. Between 18 and 24 months, he'll graduate to more complicated, multiple-step instructions like "Go to your room and bring me your teddy bear."

In order to carry out a two-step mission like Operation Teddy Transport, your toddler needs more than just language comprehension; he also needs short-term memory. To help keep his head in the game, use short, simple phrases followed up with a gentle reminder if he gets distracted.