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  • Writer's pictureAnie

Sloppy Sandwich Results

Are you getting sloppy sandwich results when you ask your kids to do things? Your directions may need editing!

^^ In this exercise ^^ I asked the kids to write me instructions to make a PB&J sandwich and told them I would follow their instructions a bit like Amelia Bedelia. It was a challenge to them to give the clearest instructions they could possibly give.

Their instructions lead to sloppy sandwich results...and a whole lot of laughter!!!

But it got me thinking, isn't this a bit like us when we give instructions to our kids? We *think* we are giving them clear expectations and yet often times we leave out a lot of key details. If you feel like you ask your kids to do something and the results are never what you were envisioning, your child may need you to edit your instructions.

Often times our children WANT to follow our instructions. They're PROUD of their sloppy sandwich results because they *think* they really did what you were asking. OR they CAN'T do what you're asking because the directive doesn't make sense to them so they're paralyzed with confusion. (This is often the case with multi-step tasks. Many children aren't able to remember each step or organize it in their brain in an order that effectively completes the task).

Before getting frustrated that your kids just aren't listening, try to chunk tasks down into very clear, step-by-step instructions, giving one step at a time. If the experiment works and the results are "edible sandwiches" (or completed tasks), then you can work on additional skills to help your child complete tasks without needing step-by-step instructions each time.

Get ready to go please.


1. Get your socks

2. Put your socks on

3. Get your shoes from the closet

4. Put your shoes on

5. Get your coat on

6. Grab your bag and let's walk to the car

Clean your room please.


1. Put the stuffed animals in this bin

2. Put the books on this shelf

3. Put your laundry in the basket

4. Put the blocks in the tote

Get ready for bed please.


1. Do you need a snack?

2. Get your PJs

3. Change into your PJs

4. Put your dirty clothes in the hamper

5. Brush your teeth

6. Choose your book

7. Hop into bed. We can snuggle and read.

If chunking tasks into step-by-step instructions are getting you better results, consider making charts (words, visuals or both!) of your family's most common tasks. The chart will allow your child to complete tasks independently without you needing to remind them every step of the way.

As your children develop improved logic and executive functioning skills, completing tasks will become easier for them. In time, they will be better able to assume steps, fill in gaps, and make logical decisions throughout the process. In the meantime, you can help them (and you) get better results by making sure you edit your instructions.

Happy sandwich making!!!

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