To think most 4 year olds aren't great listeners? Father losing it(27 Posts)
My ex is very critical of our ds, which I hate. He's 4 years old and a lovely boy, very sociable and kind. His listening can be very poor, in that you'll have to ask him something a few times before he actually hears you and sometimes is day dreaming.
Ex thinks he's doing it on purpose and 'never listens'. But I ask him to do something and sometimes he'll do it first time (get dressed, wash hands etc).
Yesterday we had an argument as I didn't appreciate him criticising ds so harshly in front of him so told him to be more positive. He thinks I'm too soft, I'm not.
Can I ask what your 4 year olds are like in terms of listening?
God yes. For a while I genuinely thought mine might have hearing problems! She's 6 now and much better.
Oh my god. My youngest at 3/4 wouldn't seem to hear a thing (even asking her if she wanted to chocolate to try and get a response). Utterly engaged in fantasy of her own play etc.
If it's any help i used to make sure she was in front of me and looking at me when giving instructions. Frustratingly impractical, but handy when it was important (the rest of the time i let her miss out in attempt to learn).
He needs to be careful. We took a stern approach with ds1 at first and tbh it made him worse. Now I try to be as positive as possible, anything he does well I praise praise praise. If he does something I don't like I explain why it's bad but move on quickly.
Obviously big naughty things like hurting someone etc get a bigger consequence.
Awful! I think it's entirely selective....he hears what he wants to hear. Needs asking several times to do something but other times, especially if it's food related, it's like he has bat hearing! I try to ask no more than twice before I launch into a countdown.....that generally gets his attention and he springs into action!
You are right that this is normal 4yo behaviour and phrases like 'he's doing it on purpose' are not helpful.
However, as he's your ex, I guess you may struggle to get him to change his opinion.
I actually had my four year old son's hearing checked as I was worried he couldn't hear properly. It was fine. They are so interested in the world around them at that age they find it hard to focus.
Yep, we've got us one of them. DH also despairs and gets v frustrated. We know that sometimes he can hear us perfectly well but chooses not to answer. Yesterday I said in exasperation "I know you can hear me" to which he responded "I can't!"
Sometimes he is just engrossed in something but often it's just that he can't be bothered to respond. Drives me mad. But I agree with making sure s/he's facing you before asking important questions. And turning off any electronics too.
Yesterday I said in exasperation "I know you can hear me" to which he responded "I can't!"
I've told him to get down on his level and make eye contact first as that does help but essentially its his age and he's a very active boy with very low concentration levels. I think he will get better when he starts school - ex thinks he's worse than any other child when we go out etc.
I agree the harsh route really does make ds worse and act out. If you're aggressive with him he just listens less and gets silly.
I might get him to read 'how to listen so kids will talk etc' to get some tips?
I really dont like him saying negative things about him like he's not there and can't hear. I don't think it'll do well for his self esteem.
Reading up on child development was really useful - children at this age come across like they are fluent English speakers like adults, but actually they are more like GCSE/A-level learners, picking up on certain words and phrases and not very good at comprehending long sentences.
Apparently even 5-6yos are pretty rubbish at dealing with sentences like "before you do X, don't forget Y", and think they are obeying by doing X first! MrNC and family used to waffle at ds and dn and then complain they "weren't listening" and I'd take over and simply say "Name. Shoes. Shoes." and they'd do it (mostly) - I read something that says keep sentences down to 2 or 3 words if you actually want action out of your 4yo.
though also for my own amusement I sometimes start talking in French or German at the dcs (my French is sub-GCSE but better than my 8yo). they complain I'm talking foreign. I point out they weren't listening when I spoke English so why are they complaining now? It might get some extra vocab into their heads...
My 4 year old ds rarely listens...unless it's something he wants to hear! Occassionally he can be good and do things straight away buy mostly he has to be asked several times. I don't think that's unusual wven though it's annoying and frustrating. He is too busy being a child to be bothered with having to eat, get dressed and tidy toys!
YANBU. If he keeps insisting that DS is a "poor listener" in front of DS it's going to end up becoming a self fulfilling prophecy. Your DS sounds normal anyway.
I have two just like that, one being my husband. It's ADHD in their cases but still frustrating. Shouting can help immediately but long term isn't a solution. He's only four so should grow out of it. His dad needs to lower his expectations, more so if he's around him less often than you as he'll be less used to his behaviour.
DS has ASD and it took me a while to realise he just couldn't comprehend a long instruction or explanation. When I started breaking things down to one task at a time, limiting choices (either/or for 2 things is the most he can handle) and keeping things succinct he started responding.
Even at age 9 I can't tell him "brush your teeth then put on your coat and shoes" He has to finish one task before he can focus on the next. Otherwise he won't do any of it and appears like he hasn't listened at all.
Also I will usually just say his name until I get a response before I start giving instructions. Just to make sure he knows I'm talking. Otherwise I could be talking to someone else for all he knows.
My DS is 4 and exactly the same. My DH also gets frustrated and frequently ends up getting shouty. He trys to talk to DS like he's much older than he is as well. I think because I'm around DS more I'm much more effective at communicating with him so will often take over when DH getting frustrated, which I know he hates, but find it hard to watch the situation get worse. I feel like I have to remind him that DS is only 4.
Your ex is wrong, wrong, wrong, if he wants to speak or ask him to do something a low voice, and getting on his level and making eye contact is the way to get him to listen and actually hear.
Also l would be fuming if someone criticised Dcs within earshot...lt is damaging and unkind.......you should have a sharp word with ex and educate him as to how to speak politely and effectively to his son...
4 year olds are not reliable with instructions ...they are very young and should be treated with kindness when spoken to or about.
Thank you for your reassurances and thoughts. I'm going to show ds' dad this thread in the hope it will reassure him ds is a typical 4 year old.
I think the way you communicate helps here - I always make eye contact when I talk to anyone (child or not) so I'm nearly always heard and listened to. You also have to be really clear and succint. My sister used to always moan that her 'selective hearing' 4 year old always listened to me straight away - and never understood that it has more to do with my skill at communicating than my neice's lack of it.
My ds is 9, and thinks that get dressed means stand around in one sock doing Lego......
But seriously, getting harsh with a 4 year old will just damage your dh s relationship to him. Firm but fair .
I still have to use single word commands with 10 year old DS at times...
DH is more irritated by this being necessary than I am, and does raise his voice much more than me.
Have you seen these fact files? Have a look through them if you are concerned this behaviour is out of the ordinary.
I use single word commands with my teens
and sometimes DH !
Phone, key, coat.
Light off, lock the door.
Shower, teeth, bed (younger water-averse teen.)
When I taught early years, the suggestion was one key word in a sentence per year of age, so for a 4 year old "Stand by the door" (3 key words - stand, by, door) was about all they could manage. It felt very unnatural at first, like I was barking orders, but it got results!
I think he is more defiant with his dad than me but he sees much less of him. Not sure how to make that better to be honest but I'll tell him to get down on his level and use short sentences.
I do think he needs to change the way he asks him though.
My five year old reception child will listen if it is a subject he is interested in or if he is at school but other than that... no chance.
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