Maternal directiveness, assessed by the mother's use of prescriptives, is correlated with slow vocabulary development. As prescriptives are most often used to redirect a child's attention to a different object or activity, it is hypothesized that attentional regulation underlies this negative relationship. In the present study, twelve mothers were videotaped interacting with their children aged 1;1, and 100 maternal utterances were coded for pragmatic intent. Prescriptives were coded as either changing (LEADING) or FOLLOWING the child's focus of attention. Only the frequency of mothers' FOLLOW-prescriptives correlated significantly with a productive vocabulary measure taken at 1;10. This correlation was high and positive, indicating that, given joint focus, directing a 13-month-old's behaviour can have beneficial effects on subsequent vocabulary development.