Brain HealthMovement

Verbal Prompting and Overload

By November 10, 2017 No Comments

Do you find yourself having to repeat requests and directions to your child several times before they respond? Do you find your voice getting louder and angrier each time?

Be Careful! Verbal Prompting Should Not Be Overused

The more you use it, the less effective it becomes and eventually it may lead to nagging or arguing.

Another concern it that many children have difficulty with auditory processing and there may be a delay in information process, further weakening the verbal prompting’s effectiveness. The child may only be processing a small piece of what is being said. If a prompt is longer, the more confusing it will likely be. While most of use are accustomed to talking, we give long verbal directions. However, for most children on the spectrum, they will response best with short, to the point, phrases.

Delayed processing may result in it taking 10-30 seconds for a child to process what has been said. Therefore, if you are in the middle or a direction when you repeat a request, the child will have to start processing all over. Understandingly, this can result in frustration and resistance from the child, which may cause the parent to increase the tone and volume of their voice.

The lesson here: when directing a child, try to avoid these repetitive verbal prompts. Instead, try one of the following:

  1. Avoid giving a verbal direction across the room. Instead, you should get face to face and eye level with the child prior to giving a short verbal statement.

  2. Try pairing the verbal prompt with a visual prompt if the child has auditory processing challenges. For instance you may say “time to eat” while pointing to a spoon.

  3. Allow 10-15 seconds for the child to respond. If unsuccessful, pair the command with a physical prompt to guide their action.

The most important thing to take away here is to avoid restating a prompt if it is not working as this will only weaken its effectiveness. You should find that with less repeated verbal prompting, you will have greater results.