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To be worried about my five year old's concentration?

(32 Posts)
FiddleDiddleDiddle Tue 28-Jan-14 11:26:26

My son is 5 and in Reception. I would like to stress that I love him more than the world and think that he's essentially a very good and sweet boy but... he's driving me and his teacher mad!

The problem is basically that he doesn't listen, and often doesn't do as he's told.

We are quite strict with him at home so it's not a case of spoiled brat, but he just. doesn't. listen!

For example, it sounds like a silly thing but when I took him to school this morning I said 'put your book bag in the box' (where they go). The fact he even needs reminding when all the other children come in and just do it automatically is telling, but then I promise I told him five more times, ending up getting quite cross with him. He was stopping to pull things out if his book bag and look at them, playing with a chair, messing around with a friend etc.

Everything I tell him, I feel like I always end up having to get cross with him before he'll actually do it. He's VERY distractible and I do know, for example, that if I ask him to do something I have to ensure the TV is off as he's incapable of ignoring it. Even when you talk to him he's looking off round the room, or you'll be telling him off and he'll suddenly break into talking about something else he's just seen or thought about. It's at a level where I'm even wondering if there is some reason behind his inability to concentrate.

He's not hyperactive, it's more of a dreamy lack of concentration. Anyway, the teacher has mentioned a few times that it's very hard to get him to do any work and this morning she pulled me aside and spoke to me quite seriously about it. It's a very gentle Reception class so we're not talking about hard graft, but he'll literally sit there with a piece of paper and mess around and do nothing while all the other children are drawing the teddy bear or whatever, and (like me) she said she can only get any effort out of him if she gets cross. I'm so upset.

So as not to drip feed, he's a bright boy as he can read and write already (was reading pre-school) so it's not like he's finding the work too hard.

There's also a bit of back chat - the teacher said he can give you a hundred different reasons why he thinks he should be rolling around the floor not sitting up nicely at group time, and this is the same as at home, he's got an answer for everything but doesn't just do as he's told.

I know he's very young, but this is an issue both at home and at school - it's distractibility and lack of concentration in the extreme, coupled with a bit of an attitude about it all.

AIBU or is this beyond normal 'five year olds being very young still' behaviour? I'd love you all to tell me that I AM being unreasonable and shouldn't worry about this.

cls77 Tue 28-Jan-14 11:39:00

Have you had his ears checked? If theyre blocked after a heavy cold that can affect hearing for months and we just think theyre not listening! My DD was like this and even got referred to audiology, where she had hearing loss simply from a bad cold?

FiddleDiddleDiddle Tue 28-Jan-14 11:56:32

Yes he's actually had two hearing tests so far, as I was hoping this was the issue. He can hear fine. He'll also acknowledge what you've said but still not do it so I know it's not that (thank you for the suggestion though).

It's odd because he loves his teacher and I'd have thought he'd want to please her. When I do get him settled to something, he's so proud of himself after (writing some words for 'sound of the week' or whatever).

He loves school and is generally a happy boy.

Dahlen Tue 28-Jan-14 12:07:17

Some children are just more like this than others. My DS is similar although he does at least knuckle down at school.

I've found that natural consequences can achieve some improvement (e.g. if he doesn't listen to me about taking his wellies for rambling and he forgets them, I won't drop them off and the school won't supply spares so he can't do it). That doesn't always prevent him from doing it again at another time though.

Some people just remain like this throughout their lives. As long as you bring him up to accept that any negative consequences brought about as a result of his behaviour are his own responsibility and no one else's fault, that's pretty much all you can do.

You could also try "How to Talk so Kids Will Listen" which may help. Lots of positive feedback from people who have used that. My DS certainly responds better to instructions asked in a specific way, but the problem is that the majority of the rest of the world hasn't read it.

My DS is doing fine BTW. He is always going to cause me a lot more exasperation than his sister simply because that's his temperament, whereas she is much more organised and efficient. However, he has other strengths, and as long as his weaknesses don't undermine the rest of his life, I will accept him for who he is (while never giving up trying to get him to focus more).

Best of luck.

FiddleDiddleDiddle Tue 28-Jan-14 12:17:20

Thank you so much Dahlen - reading that has made me feel so much better.

Yesterday I told him to pick something out to take for show and tell, which he did, and then I told him to put it in his bag, and reminded him once, telling him where his bag was. When we got to school, it wasn't in his bag. He had a big fuss and cry but both his teacher and I agreed that it was a good lesson.

Funnily enough, this morning he found the thing he wanted to take and packed it in his bag before I even had to remind him. So maybe there's hope!

I was just so upset by what the teacher said, especially as I could recognise everything she said so knew it was true... She's a fantastic teacher and I know will help us get the best out of him. It's hard because I love him and want everyone to see the best bits about him, but can see that he is not currently endearing himself (the teacher did say 'we do love him, we think he's fantastic' - bless her - but I know that a kid who doesn't do as they're told and answers back is not exactly appealing).

Like you, my son has a sister who is the opposite - very good concentration, very quiet and shy. Maybe it really is just their personalities.

Nataleejah Tue 28-Jan-14 12:22:37

The thing is... In other countries children don't start school until they're 7 years old. Until that, they're just immature.

WilsonFrickett Tue 28-Jan-14 12:31:29

I second 'how to talk' - it's a great book.

I also think some of the tactics used to help children with ASD-type disorders can be useful to you here I am not suggesting for a moment he has ASD

But things like:

A list on the door with everything he has to remember before leaving for school (coat, bag, gloves, hat, shoes) is really helpful (yes, I have a child who has left for school in his stocking feet!).

Laying his clothes out in the order he puts them on.

Having a little check list for all the things he has to do to get in the school door (like put his book bag away)

A visual timetable for the day's lessons (there's probably one in the classroom already but he's maybe not 'seen' it)

A little card on his desk to remind him of the things he has to do before starting work (jotter, date, name)

Again I am NOT suggesting I have diagnosed your son over the internet! Just that these tactics and techniques are really good for any DC who has problems with planning and organisation - which it sounds to me is what's going on here.

fluterby Tue 28-Jan-14 12:42:29

I have a dd likes this, now 8.

I think it's just a character trait with mine. She's imaginative and very like my arty dh.

In reception she would roll about at carpet time, rarely looked like she was listening (sometimes with her back to the teacher), made up bizarre excuses why she couldn't do what everybody else was doing.

She's now year 3 and much improved (though not entirely). She complies with the rules fine. Very messy and disorganised but the content of her work is good. She sometimes opts in and out of trying at school which lets her down. It takes a new teacher months to realise she's quite bright.

I have to tell her seventy billion times to do things. She can't talk and do at the same time. But she's doing well at school academically and has some nice friends. She's just a bit infuriating at times.

It's been a gradual improvement over several years. And she does have a fantastic imagination for vocabulary, stories and art work.

I was told my her year 1 teacher there were 3 or 4 like this in the class. Her newly qualified reception teacher was quite alarmed by it though.

DeWe Tue 28-Jan-14 13:38:23

Ds wouldn't have drawn a teddy bear with any effort in reception. He would have looked on it as a waste of perfectly good playing with cars/trains/dinosaurs/football time. In fact the school portrait of himself he drew in year R had 3 mouths and 12 eyes. He was very cross and being made to do it, and that was his reaction. He said "she said it needed eyes so I gave her lots!"
He's in year 2 and is generally working hard. In year 1 his teacher said "his writing would probably be quite good if he'd put any effort in" (don't blame the teacher, he's very stubborn) this year he's been moved into the top writing group because he's improved so much (teacher came out to tell me).

In ds' case, he's young in the year, has hearing issues (glue ear, grommets next week!) and is immature for his age. He would have been better in a lot of ways waiting another year to start school, then his first two years would have been easier. Otoh, if he continues doing as well as it looks like he might do now, then he would have been bored in the year below.

wishful75 Tue 28-Jan-14 14:07:27

You can have ADD without hyperactivity though, it's characterised by lack of concentration, being easily distracted etc.. I think perhaps a lot of the things you mention would appear to suggest it.

whitesugar Tue 28-Jan-14 14:10:17

Your son sounds exactly like mine when he was that age! Long old story but I met a lovely woman who had worked with kids and she told me that children can be trained to follow instructions just like we train them to get dressed etc. When you want him to do something go down to his level and look him in the eye and ask him to do a task. Ask him if he understands the task and check that he knows what is required of him. Keep the tasks very simple e.g. ask him to go to his room and get a jumper. Give him lots of praise if he comes back with the jumper. Then bit by bit ask him to go and get a jumper and a pair of shoes. Keep adding on bits and pieces as much as he can cope with. Keep setting him little tasks for practice. It is really important that you look at him closely and talk directly to him.

When he has to get his PE kit or any other stuff check that he has it before you leave home. If he is anything like my son things would magically disappear between the front door and the car.

My son improved immeasurably and at 15 is a bit of a dreamer but actually that is one of his nicest traits. He is extremely musical and very artistic and has no bother concentrating when he wants to.

Divinity Tue 28-Jan-14 14:21:29

Try a visual reminder. I have one for DS1 who has ASD but it also benefits DS2(5). It has five square boxes (in a tower shape not side by side), one underneath the other and in each box there is a simple picture and description underneath:

Box1: put shoes on
Box2: put coat on
Box3: Reading book
Box4: Pick up bag
Box5: Pick up drink

I have this in the hallway at their eye level and underneath I put both sets of bags and drinks. It has helped both of them see the routine they need to do before they leave the house. Since I have done this DS1 has not forgotten to pick up his drink and take it to the car (needs a reminder to take it out of the car though!).

But it's also useful for my 5 year old to help him remember what he needs to take. It's a good tool as it reinforces your auditory instructions visually. I'd recommend giving it a go.

Unplastered Tue 28-Jan-14 14:57:46

Watching with interest as you are describing my DC (4 1/2) OP!

Foxred10 Tue 28-Jan-14 18:55:52

Seems like there are lots of them like this, my DS age 5 is another....

Edendance Tue 28-Jan-14 19:08:39

This may be obvious but is he challenged enough? He sounds a bit bored and you mentioned he was reading pre school etc. I wonder if he's just a bit 'over it' and doesn't really get the point. I'm not sure that's much help but maybe being challenged in other directions may focus him better during the other times.

Does he do any extra curricular activities?

Another alternative is that he is too used to be asked multiple times so doesn't bother until you are cross. What about one or two asks maximum then there is a consequence. He may be relying on you being cross to know when to do it.

Twobusyboys Tue 28-Jan-14 19:22:33

My ds is like this. I assumed it was normal. He is 4.5. I am niw wondering if i should worry!

Chippednailvarnish Tue 28-Jan-14 19:43:43

My Ds was exactly the same, did no work in reception and year 1. I was constantly being called in about his lack of concentration / work / sitting still / chatting / disrupting other children. His teacher was also very dismissive about him being the youngest in the year and him being immature.
We were referred to have him checked for ADHD at the end of year 1.

The doctor spoke to him at length and basically said he was very bright (eg. he was reading Harry Potter) and not being stretched and to see how he was under a different teacher.

This year in year 2 he has been much better, his teacher is very strict and bizarrely he loves her. She has pushed him to achieve and I think he is so focused he no longer has time to play up. Also now he has turned 6 he is a lot less "giddy".

Give him a bit more time OP, he's very young and I don't think schools are ready for bright kids in reception. Please don't let them pigeonhole him into a diagnosis unless there isn't any improvement by the end of the year.

Hope this helps...

singaporefling Tue 28-Jan-14 21:12:16

Awwww fiddle your tale really does remind me of my ds at around 4/5/6... He's 15 now and still has 'moments'. He behaved in a very similar way which was frustrating and puzzling for his teachers/us as he was 'obviously' intelligent and articulate when focussed. After an interview to attend the same school as his big sister, the headmisstress said 'he's got a lot of play left in him that one' and he didn't get a place. We were quite upset at the time but she was absolutely right! We also had his ears checked at the suggestion of one his teachers... My son proceeded to utterly charm the ENT consultant who cheerily declared 'there's nothing wrong with that little chaps ears' I know this may not help you, but he DID settle down/mature into sitting still and listening and concentrating more. Today, in the midst of his gcse's he's still quirky/adorable/loves acquring knowledge but there are glimpses of our beloved head-in-the-clouds boy everyday! He also used to/still does 'answer back' in a very cheeky but funny/peceptive way and whilst it can be challenging 'seemingly naughty' it's just his personality shining through!

WhatYouTalkingAbout Tue 28-Jan-14 21:34:20

Yes I've got one of those. His reception teacher said he was always in a world of his own.
I have to say his name at least 5 times before he'll listen. If I'm looking after other children I automatically ask them 3 or 4 times to do something and they'll say, I heard you the first time don't keep saying it!!
Both pre school and his teacher suggested hearing tests but he can hear ok, just chooses to ignore most people!

He is very immature compared to his friends.
His imagination is amazing if unusual at times.
He is struggling now in yr1 as they have to do more work.
He is quirky and funny not super bright or anything, struggles a bit really.
So I have no solutions, just empathy!

FiddleDiddleDiddle Wed 29-Jan-14 13:56:30

Thank you for all the replies and helpful suggestions. Just going to have a read through them now.

Feeling a bit blue as the teacher has contacted again and said can we come in for a chat with her and the headmaster tomorrow, to discuss our actions. I think she/they just want to be sure we are all on the same page and coming up with a plan rather than letting this slide but I absolutely dread these things. I know that I'm going to find it very, very hard to sit there with them criticising him and not cry or make a fool of myself. sad

It's a great school and I know they're just trying to help him be the best version of himself that he can be, but I guess this is just the first time that I've ever had pointed out to me that my PFB is less than perfect and it stings.

Divinity Wed 29-Jan-14 17:47:46

Aw fiddle they are not going to criticise him. I did the 'walk of shame' from the playground to headteacher many times in reception and year 1. You won't believe me at the moment but you do develop a thicker skin.

Your school is going to explain what they are seeing, and they are hoping you will support them by offering insight into your ds (so they can tailor their strategies to him) and also whether you will help at home.

Eg focus on reminding him at home to have 'kind hands' if he's hitting people.

Ultimately he's not settled in yet so they will work with you to try to change this.

I'll give you an example of mine, when ds was in reception. The way to the toilet was past the cloakroom. Instead of going to the toilet ds grew devil horns became distracted and instead decided to switch all the coats around. For the entire infants! They were a little late coming out that day as the young children simply put on the coat that was on their pegs.

He did settle down lot. He may still.have his moments but it does get better.

Chippednailvarnish Wed 29-Jan-14 17:53:42

I had my own Friday afternoon time slot grin

SeptemberFlowers Wed 29-Jan-14 18:38:27

My DD (4.5) is just like this hmm

BigBirthdayGloom Wed 29-Jan-14 18:44:25

My dd is a lot like this. Haven't got time to post in detail, but at eight, she's much better at the mundane stuff but still fantastically creative. Does drive me mad with the trail of started and unfinished projects but generally a delight and doing well at school.

Trance Wed 29-Jan-14 18:55:03

Another one pitching in here with a non-listening 5 year old ds.
Like yours, he's bright, well behaved in general with perfect hearing.
He hears alright....but he doesn't damn well LISTEN!
He's so easily led into mischief and cannot focus on the task in hand for more than a few minutes (unless it's lego...then it's hours hmm)
I hear you OP! (I'm listening! wink)

But what do we do???????

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