5 year old lack of concentration

(23 Posts)
nancydrewrocks Fri 26-Feb-10 10:28:57

My DD has absolutely zero ability to concentrate(other than when TV is on in which case she enters trance state!)

At school various teachers have described her as lacking in concentration/away with the fairies/in another world.

I am at my wits end: To get her to do anything I have to ask repeatedly. Getting up/breakfasted/dressed and teeth brushed before school takes two hours. I have tried to cajole/bribe/shout all to limited effect. I Have to do most thinks for her otherwise she will sit litterally twiddling her thumbs or staring into space.

Yesterday she refused to leave the playground after school. I asked nicely, got cross, said she wouldn't get to go to ballet this week, threatened to leave her there and in fact did (she stayed till she was the last child there and still I had to drag her away kicking and screaming sad).

It doesn't seem to cause her any problems, she seems popular and well liked at school and is doing well, I am told that her reading and maths are ahead of most of the class but it is driving me mad. I cannot cope with it at all. Everything is such hard work and am begining to wonder if there is something wrong with her although I have no idea what.

Any ideas what I can do or what my next steps should be?

Bonsoir Fri 26-Feb-10 10:34:27

I think that this is an age at which children quickly get distracted. My DD is 5.3 and can always find something to do and is interested in many things - conversely, when I need her to do something she doesn't feel like doing, she can be very hard work.

Interestingly, she can manage to do her wee/wash her hands/brush her teeth/get dressed all on her own and very quickly if is is motivated! I've had a couple of very interesting experiences recently which just goes to show that it is the final goal that matters.

So I now routinely use bribery, ensuring that the goal is real and reachable. I don't say "Stop dancing in front of the mirror and get ready for school" (this is meaningless for her). I say "If you don't stop dancing in front of the mirror and get ready for school, I shan't pick you up for lunch, you will have to eat at the canteen." Cue - she gets ready. And, the day she thought it was an empty threat, I did leave her at the canteen - and she cried in the bus on the way to school, and I felt bad, but still left her there.

abouteve Fri 26-Feb-10 10:35:27

I could have written this post 11 years ago. My advice would be to not worry, she will get there in the end. It is so frustrating, I know. I wish I hadn't shouted so much when I look back. I'm sure other people will come along and give much better advice.

Do the teachers seem concerned at all. Have they recognised certain signs of 'something wrong'. I had it hinted to me at aged 6 and ignored it as in those days labeling children with syndroms was new ground and it didn't like the sound of it.

abouteve Fri 26-Feb-10 10:38:21

Similar to Bonsoir. If DD had to get ready at this age for a trip to the fairground she could focus excellently on getting herself up, washed and dress and bag ready. grin

Bonsoir Fri 26-Feb-10 10:39:54

I think it is human nature not to do things you don't want to do unless there is a worthwhile goal at the end - and the appropriate goal really depends on the age of the child.

My DSSs have been working incredibly hard at school ever since we started the process of applying to new, better schools for them. At 12 and 14 they are quite able to keep in mind the long-term goal of going to a better school even when doing boring homework (like learning irregular verbs). They know that every mark counts towards their long-term project.

At 5, that kind of long-term goal is pretty meaningless. However, my DD is very keen to go to the same school as her older brothers and knew that she had to apply herself well when she went for her assessement tests at the new school.

abouteve Fri 26-Feb-10 10:49:25

How I wish I had had mumsnet all those years ago. Bonsoir that makes so much sense. I used to get told to put DD in the car in her pj's hmm. I never did.

OP I hope it works for your DD. Once a child can see why she needs to get dressed, get to school on time, listen and follow instructions from the teacher it does get easier.

I would say if the teacher asks the group to put something away and you don't help then someone has to do twice the work.

nancydrewrocks Fri 26-Feb-10 10:59:50

Thank you. The teachers haven't suggested anything is wrong, they seem to like her, feel she is doing well and I often hear her praised but there is always this underlying theme that she is away with the fairies.

Because she achieves at school they seem to find this endearing. It makes me want to scream!

Getting her ready in the morning (along with DS 3.11) and dropping them at their respective schools is the most stressful 3 hours of the day.

I hear myself shouting at her and wish I could just shut up but equally I want her to know that she does need to do what she is told, at least occassionally. I am not a horrid parent. She gets a lot of treats and opportunities to have fun doing things she enjoys and it breaks my heart taking them away from her, but of course I do if that was the particular threat but to be honest it does seem to hurt me more than it hurts her.

Bonsoir Fri 26-Feb-10 11:00:17

I think one of the hardest things as a parent is not understanding that a child (like an adult) needs a meaningful goal in order to be motivated to do something, but rather in identifying the goal that motivates a particular child at a particular stage of development.

If I say to DD "You must brush your teeth because otherwise your teeth will get holes in them" she doesn't understand the implication (there won't be holes in them tomorrow morning). If I say to DD "You must brush your teeth or you won't look pretty - pretty girls have bright, shiny teeth" she brushes them beautifully and asks me or DP to inspect them and check that her teeth are indeed bright and shiny. The immediate goal of looking pretty is within her realm of understanding and is motivation of itself.

I also tease her - if she doesn't want a bath, for example, I tell her that she'll have a smelly bottom and her teacher will be able to smell her and single her out in the class. She finds this idea hilarious (she knows I'm joking) but it is enough to motivate her to have a bath or shower.

have you had her hearing checked?

nancydrewrocks Fri 26-Feb-10 11:21:59

BALD - I haven't but given that she can hear a crisp packet rustling from 40' and comes running (must be that reward business!) I don't think I need to worry, although it was one of many things that crossed my mind.

Thanks Anna - you are right: when I pitch the rewards at the right level she is much more likely to cooperate (we too have the looking pretty and sparkly teeth inspection) I think it is more me feeling utterly worn down by having to encourage everything, then having a tendency to get cross (which I hate myself for) - definitely more my problem than hers.

I just feel soooooooooooo jealous of the mums who tell me they get the children up 45 mins before school starts - how?????

Next week is a new one and I am going to try really hard with her smile


Bonsoir Fri 26-Feb-10 11:25:45

I get my DD up at 8 am for an 8.35 am departure - and this is how I do it:

- wake her up after having had my own coffee and bath (still in my dressing gown though)

- give her breakfast in bed (cereal and a cup of milk), spooning in the first couple of mouthfuls. The huge advantage to this is that after 5 minutes the food and drink have woken her up, and she realises she needs to pee, so gets out of bed to go to the loo of her own accord

- after loo she has been trained to brush teeth (shiny etc) and wash hands

- and by the time she has done all that, I have laid her clothes out on her bed and she more or less gets them on (albeit with a bit of motivational stuff)

MmmCoffee Fri 26-Feb-10 11:34:46

This takes me back! DD is 12 now, was always off in her own little world, still is sometimes! She can go up to get showered, and half an hour later I'll go up and she's making a model or writing something, and has forgotten all about the shower.

She has always been the same, she's getting better now she's at High School and HAS to get things done on time.

At age 5 I had to get myself up and ready insanely early, then get her up, wash her, dress her, brush her hair, and then give her breakfast. Which was always toast or a 'roll-up' or something she could take with her and eat on the way, because she'd spend most of the time staring into space or playing 'fairies' with her fingers on the table.

Oh yes, I had to stand in the loo with her too, or she'd pee and then play with the loo roll for half an hour, making little dresses and clothes for her fingers hmm

All the school would say was 'children mature at different rates, she'll improve in her own time".

I moaned to my mum about it. Apparently I was exactly the same blush

MmmCoffee Fri 26-Feb-10 11:35:32

er I mean when DD was age 5, obviously... blush

Bonsoir Fri 26-Feb-10 11:39:49

This thread is very topical for me at the moment because I have just had DD's school report, and there are clearly areas where she is super motivated and others where she has zero motivation and I know for a fact that in the areas where she has zero motivation that the "rewards are not being pitched at the right level" (very good expression). I need to talk to the school about this, and it is a bit complicated...

nancydrewrocks Fri 26-Feb-10 11:39:53

Oooh I am jealous!

I get DD up at 6:20 after I am showered and have put make up on (still in dressing gown).

Breakfast is downstairs but teeth brushing is done in dowstairs cloakroom as one DC invariably finishes breakfast before other so I can keep an eye out.

Clothes are laid out and she dresses in my room at the same time as I do so I can chivvy her along. Hair brushing and putting up is traumatic.

We eventually get out the house about 7:55 but even getting them both in car seems to take about 7 mins!

Next week it shall all be different!

Bonsoir Fri 26-Feb-10 11:41:06

Is your DD in Yr1, nancydrew?

mintyfresh Fri 26-Feb-10 11:45:13

I think I wrote an almost identical post about 2 months ago!!

My ds is also 5 and in a world of his own! He has an incredible imagination but is not very grounded in the real world. Everything I ask him to do, get ready, do his homework, tidy up etc invades his little games and he goes ballistic!! He is quite a difficult child although very rewarding in other ways.

We deal with it through bribery too. He is already obsessed with the computer and will do anything for 10 minutes on it. This is what works at the moment, but it can very very tiring to have to negotiate with him over every little thing.

Unfortunately, it does impact on my ds at school too - teacher thinks he is a bit behind in his maturity sad

Bonsoir Fri 26-Feb-10 11:47:21

mintyfresh - don't take the comment on "lack of maturity" to heart. IMVHO teachers are delighted to use this phrase which absolves of them of the responsibility for pitching the rewards at the right level to motivate your child!

nancydrewrocks Fri 26-Feb-10 11:49:40

Bonsoir she is in reception but has previously done a year in nursery so is not new to the whole getting up/uniform/being on time routine.

Minty - glad I am not the only one and that you also confirm that bribery works. next week I shall embrace it smile!

Bonsoir Fri 26-Feb-10 11:51:30

An anecdote: my nephew, who is now 11 and in the first year of secondary school and an all round academic/sporting/artistic star, had horrible problems at school when he was 5. The school told my sister he would never manage at mainstream school because of his behavioural difficulties and called in an ed psych etc. My sister had to withdraw him from school altogether for several months.

The only issue was that DN was bored out of his mind with the mind-numbingly low-level expectations of the school, who treated the children like dogs needing training. He is a child with no problems whatsoever.

TCstrevens Mon 28-Nov-11 15:19:18

My DD is 5.7 and in year 1 at school. They seem concerned that she is 'away with the fairies' and has 'dire concentration' issues. She is not progressing as they would like. At home she seems happy and is very keen on playing with her dolls and her brother. I am in the throes of separating from her dad and maybe this is having a knock on effect, although her dad and I get on reasonably well and are still living together at the moment. Could it be that she is just quite immature? I guess being the youngest of two I have babied her a bit more than her brother..I don't know

MCDL Mon 28-Nov-11 20:13:18

Bonsoir, have really enjoyed reading your advise on this thread, i have a dd 5.5 and u have to be ahead of them at all times .... DD is a bright, funny, smart and wonderful little girl. Generally very good, not having any bother with her .... She can get very bossy and demanding at times and sometimes thinks DP and I are her best friends not her parents.

Nancydrew I could have written your posts almost word for word! I too have a very dreamy 4.9 yr old dd. Getting ready for school was getting to be a struggle each morning as I know she is capable of dressing herself etc but it was just taking forever. So I decided to cut down a bit of the stress and some days I dress her myself but make her do elements of it.

I also use marbles as rewards and winning 10 marbles is a treat of her choice (within reason!) We decide the treat then do lots of 'ooh come on dd only x number of marbles before you win your treat. Be really good to get one for getting dressed nicely/eating your breakfast a bit quicker etc' Seems to work with her. Dreamy children are lovely if a bit frustrating smile

Bonsoir will be using some of your tips too thank you

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