I do a lot of pre-teaching, or teaching in advance. A lot of it. It takes just a few minutes, but sets up a "has trouble following directions" kid for success.
This is how it works around here. Whenever we go someplace to shop or visit we go over what our behavior should look like. If we are going into a store, we talk about not asking for things and staying with the cart. We talk about not being loud and keeping to our side of the aisle.
Those few reminders help her know what's expected and keeps her accountable if she choses not to act the way she should. It's hard to use the excuse, "I forgot," if you just mentioned it in the car.
But I use it for so much more than just outings.
*I use it when she sits down to a math page, reminding her to show her work, not to skip problems, and read directions carefully.
*I use it when we play a board game, reminding her to play fair and not be a sore loser and to allow everyone time to take their turn by not hurrying them or acting impatient.
*I use it when we are working on household chores, reminding her to try her best and not to cut corners.
*I use it when we sit down for a meal, reminding her to use her table manners, take small bites and wait for others to be served.
Sounds like a lot of reminding. It is. But I've found that reminding her of the behavior beforehand helps her to be successful. And isn't that the goal? I want her behavior to continue to improve, but if I tell her how to act once and expect her to hit the mark every time after that, I'm going to be sorely disappointed.
But if I tell her moments before the expected behavior, I find I see much better results and, in turn, a faster growth in the whole behavior department.
And growth is what it's all about.
Whether you're teaching the "has trouble following directions" kid or raising them the practice is the same. Tell them what you expect and then actually expect them to do it. Hold them accountable if they don't rise to the occasion and then try again next time.
There will always be a next time.