Little to no attention span.

Shoshana - posted on 05/06/2010 ( 12 moms have responded )

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My 3yr. old does not listen to me, my husband or his teacher. Whenever we try to teach him anything, he starts to do his own thing. His soccer coach also has a hard time getting him to listen. This is very embarrassing. Is anyone else experiencing this?

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April - posted on 05/16/2010

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Don't feel bad! I have a 4 yr old and we are playing T-ball this year and he is the only kid who runs off the field in the middle of the game wanting a hug or something to drink. He just refuses to listen to the coach but he does great when he wants to. I just started a sticker chart with gold and red stars. Gold stars are for good behavior and Red is for bad behavior and every night after bath time we go over the chart and he hates getting a red star it has really helped! At the end of the week if he has all gold stars then he gets a toy of something. Good luck I hope this helped!

Rebekah - posted on 05/07/2010

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We went to a one-night parenting class when our boy was 2, just because we felt like we needed to get a handle on the challenges of the age. It was so helpful for me. Maybe that might be an option for you, if not counseling. It was almost like a parent support group...it was so validating to hear parents undergoing the same challenges that we were! He very may well grow out of it, but in the midst of these times, sometimes parents need some guidance/feedback/validation to keep going when its really hard! :)

Anyway, unless you have ADHD in your family or unless his behavior is so severe that its unmanageable, I'd suggest holding off on that thought. Most kids, unless its severe, don't get a diagnosis until school-age because they need that time to mature, develop skills and the ability to follow a structure. Typical 3 year olds don't have a huge attention span anyway, and kids vary so much with abilities at this age. As I see in my own household, they are still so driven by their needs that its hard for them to handle delayed gratification...the world revolves around them and their impulse control just needs time to develop. As he gets older, it will be more evident if it is more difficult for him than the typical kid to hold attention during less desirable activities. Even if it is ADHD, not all kids require medication....though those that do can benefit from it. Apart from that, there can be techniques put in place to help work with a child's learning style.

Perhaps if he's a sports-oriented kid, maybe he'd like a more physical way of learning what's on the flashcards...like, jump up and down the number you see on the flashcard, or act out an animal that starts with the letter on the flashcard... something like that. Or run around in the yard and gather up scattered letter cards in the order of the alphabet. I dunno--just brainstorming, here! If he likes music, you can incorporate that into your efforts (educational songs). For books, maybe you could find some stories that are of a high-interest area for him (sports themes, dinosaurs, whatever he likes), or have him go to the library and choose some to see if that generates more investment. There are a lot of educational toys out there, so maybe its a matter of experimenting with different ones. They learn by play at this age, so follow his cues and see where it takes you. Will he be going to preschool? Now that my son is in preschool, he actually enjoys pretending to be in school and will practice writing letters and pretend to do "homework" like big kids do. Funny what gets them going.

Hang in there!

Allison - posted on 05/06/2010

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i cant give u much advise as i am only going from what my mother said about me, when i was younger i had a hearing problem and didnt pay attention because i didnt realise i was being spoken to could this be the problem with your lil one? maybe take him to your doctor and tell the dr your problem and ask to get a hearing test done? or if he has ok hearing maybe do a rewards system for when he listenes... when he takes direction give him a treat ( i dont mean lollies, i mean a tomas the tank engine or who ever is his favourite charactor stickers or something like that lollies are not recommended treats especially for good behavior)

Tiffany - posted on 05/06/2010

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Well, recently my husband and I are experiencing the same issues with my 3 yr old son. He only listens when he wants to.LOL. Does he talk or hold conversations?If not,then you may want to get his ears checked.He may not hear you. So now we are taking him to a child guidance therapist. He's doing well with the 5 minute special time. So for 5 mintues everday you'll play with him with building blocks, play-do, or bubbles.You'll let him do whatever he likes. But the catch is to copy everything he does with describing everything he does.For example: You're putting the yellow block on the table.You can't tell no,or that's not right.And if he does something like bad then you're supposed to ignore him.My son has so much fun with it that his behavior has changed.

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Shoshana - posted on 05/16/2010

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Thanks April for the suggestion, I will try the sticker chart. It sounds like it might work.

Shoshana - posted on 05/14/2010

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Well, I thought it was due to his age also but he is on the soccer team with other 3Yr olds and he is the only one that isn't listening and running off doing his own thing.

Jessica - posted on 05/13/2010

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He's three... this is normal! Our son is almost 4, and even though he's getting better, he is sitll often like that. At this age, children rarely have the mental capacity to handle the focus that older children can. this is why we are waiting another year to get our son involved in activities like soccer.

Malia - posted on 05/13/2010

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I thought it was just me! My son is doing the saaame thing. I have to physically touch him and establish eye contact to make sure he's listening. I thought I was the only Queen of Repeating.

Vicky - posted on 05/13/2010

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Yes definately, my 3 year old is so bad at following instruction that his teacher told me yesterday that he would be sent home if it continues, he throws things at the other children and teacher, (his favourite game at home, they wont let him have balls in school) he has kicked the teacher and bitten his own arm and blamed the teacher for doing it. ( Both times he was being told off by teacher) When I have enquired as to what is going on they tell me that they have to do so many 3 minute time outs in a 3 hour school session that they lose count because he will not do as he is told. Tidy time, reading group, sharing toys, getting wet in the water play area so they have to change him, being kind etc. I have a meeting next week with the school as to where we can go with him because they are not getting anywhere. I have to literally drag him into school screaming everyday which is getting more distressing everytime and he comes out crying nearly evry day. If we come up with anything at our meeting I will post it on to see if it can help you. You just have to hang in there, they eventually get through it, it just seems endless at the time, one extra bonus for you is you have your husband to talk to I am a single mum and his dad is totally useless and doesn't show any support when he comes fortnightly for the day. Good luck hope it gets better for you soon!!

Shoshana - posted on 05/07/2010

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Yes, he is selectively tuning us out.
"Teach" is like sitting with him and reading or going over flash cards, phonics, etc. He just tunes us out, starts to sing or make other noises, or just walks away.
The coach says maybe he just doesn't want to play, but at games he does really well and actually scores goals.
I was thinking it might be ADHD, but I wouldn't want to medicate him.

Shoshana - posted on 05/07/2010

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My son only listens when he wants to. I talked to my husband about taking him to a therapist but he says he will grow out of it.

Rebekah - posted on 05/07/2010

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Is he selectively tuning you out? Like if you ask from another room if he wants a cookie he hears you, but if you are trying to teach him something he ignores you? If so, it sounds like a chosen behavior--not wanting to listen or stop what he's doing when he doesn't want to. When you say "teach him," do you mean teaching a skill, or do you mean correcting his behavior? I've noticed with our son that if any disciplinary talk becomes a "lecture" of any length, the child will tune out the parent. Its too much at this age. Keep it short, simple, and to the point. If you are trying to teach a skill, maybe make it as hands-on as possible or put a fun spin on it to keep him engaged. If he seems to consistently tune out directions--by you or the coach or whomever, then perhaps implement some discipline or re-evaluate if he's ready for the activity. My son did a lot of testing with me in this way when he was an early 3 when I took him for storytime at the library... he really challenged me and would not listen and sit as he was supposed to (he was roaming around the room, playing with doorstops and checking out the outlets...while the other children sat. He was clearly looking at me while he did this same routine week after week, waiting for a response from me.

And btw, this same boy was able to sit through a church service, so its not like he wasn't capable in any situations!). After a few embarassing episodes, I would remove him. It was a rocky time, but I think much of it was his age and a testing phase he was going through. That strong will can be a bugger to deal with. All through the age of 3 he went through power struggles with me and my husband, and I really had to establish my authority in a clear way. I worried how he'd do with listening in preschool (6 months later) after that whole ordeal, but he actually is doing great. He's now four and is so much better in that regard. Not that he still isn't willful and tests at times, but its pretty clear here that if he doesn't listen there will be a consequence.



What is the coach's opinion about what to do? I've never tried my son in sports at this young age, but I'm sure the kids need to be able to follow directions enough to make it a good experience for all involved. Is he ready for the expectations that being in a sport requires? Most kids also respond to positive reinforcement, so you could try doing a sticker chart for him, rewarding him for listening when he does well. Keep the increments small and attainable.



This is all assuming that his hearing checks out fine, as I hope it does. Age 3 was the hardest year here...4 has been much better by far (knocking on wood). Best of luck to you!

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