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DS finds it difficult to concentrate. How do I know if there's a problem?

(4 Posts)
aufaniae Mon 29-Oct-12 07:04:04

DS seems finds it difficult to stay focussed on a task.

He's 3.10

How can I tell if this is just his age or if it's a concern?

Yesterday for example we were at an event for children where there was some drawing. DS (as I expected) although interested, found it too hard to sit at a table or engage in the task for long enough to draw a picture. He did some scribbles for about 2 minutes, which I praised him for, and then it lost interest for him. I gently tried to encourage him to do some more, but there was no compulsion, it was meant to be for fun! Usually I wouldn't think twice about this, but there was a boy much younger than him there who was sitting and drawing nicely, and it occurred to me that I'd never seen DS sit with such concentration. He managed a picture last year which had a head and eyes. I was very impressed! But nothing since, just scribbles. So I know he can draw, but doesn't. I had thought, well he's very young, he'll do it when he's ready, but now I'm thinking perhaps concentration is an issue.

Another example would be he's totally unable to stand still while I brush his teeth for example. It seems he just can't do it! Should a nearly-4 year old be able to stand still for teeth brushing? (I am trying to encourage him to do it himself but he's not at all interested atm).

We took him to a football group for very young DCs about a year ago as he loves kicking a ball around and I thought it would be fun for him. It was totally unsuitable in the end. They said it was just for fun, but it turned out it was way too formal for little ones IMO. There was a lot of instruction as opposed to just letting them have a kick about. We persevered for a few weeks, but gave up in the end. The thing that was noticeable however was that all the other DCs there - all of whom were younger than DS - were able to follow the instructions, but DS just wasn't. He ended up in hysterics at not being allowed to play with the ball all the time.

Things like this get me wondering, is this something I should be worried about?

Or perhaps it's totally normal, and I'm just being a worry wart. He's not even 4 yet!

DS is a lovely little boy. He's obviously bright and has a great imagination - he loves role-play games for example. He's very sociable and confident with people.

I understand it's dangerous to get into comparing your DC to others as they all develop at different rates. I don't want to ignore a problem if there is one, nor imagine one that isn't there! This parenting lark can be quite difficult can't it?!

SilveryMoon Mon 29-Oct-12 07:10:19

I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong.
What about his eyes? When he is sitting down, are his eyes darting from place to place? Does he sit slouched?
Those sorts of things may point towards ADHD, but it all sounds pretty normal to me.
I have 2 ds's. Ds1 has never been interested in sitting down with pencils but ds2 loves it.
Ds2 (3.8yrs is far better at following instruction than ds1 (5.2yrs)
Ds1 can't repeat to me what I have said to him and never seems to stay focused on anything, but ds2 is a lot more focused in everything.
Just the way they are i think.

JakeBullet Mon 29-Oct-12 07:24:13

As you say he is still very young so it's not necessarily an issue.
My DS was by like this and is autistic with ADHD. I am NOT for one minute saying your DS is the same but obviously he has some possible signs of ADHD. However, so do a lot of boys at the same age.....and they don't all have ADHD.

So my question would be does he attend nursery? If so, how do they feel he manages? My son is 9 now but they were already raising concerns at nursery when he was about the same age as your DS. My DS did have other issues as well such as motor skill problems etc

ADHD is often not diagnosed before the age of 7, I think this is due to the fact that many children can be unfocused and inattentive to varying degrees before then without it being an issue or sign of anything more concerning. As they get older their concentration just improves with the maturity age brings.

It is hard isn't it? Looking back at my son's early years I can see clear signs of regression etc but at the time I did not notice them....I just thought I had an active and quirky child. So effectively I ignored all the classic signs of autism....not something I forgave myself for very readily either.

Perhaps have a word with a HV or GP to see what they think but if the nursery are not raising concerns then chances are its a maturity thing and will come with time.

adoptmama Mon 29-Oct-12 07:55:27

I wouldn't worry too much that he went into a new, overstimulating environment (like the event for children you describe) and he couldn't get to a point of sustained, focussed attention. There would have been lots of competing factors drawing his attention, meaning he was focussing and then refocussing on different things. It is perfectly normal at this age. You'd be lucky to get 8-10 minutes concentration at this age in a peaceful and familiar environment.

Have a think about how he does in familiar environment doing a task he enjoys and doesn't find difficult. Can he sustain attention for a normal time for his age (2-2.5 minutes per year). He may simply dislike/find difficult holding a pencil to draw or simply not really understand the 'task'. Spend some time drawing fun things and colouring in together at home. Get some boxes from the supermarket and make a rocket or car etc. Structure activities to find out his likes and dislikes and this will help a) you identify if there are concentration concerns and b) develop his concentration. Also think about his diet and what he has been eating immediately before being asked to concentrate: some foods promote concentration, good sleep etc (and concentration is worse when tired) and some do the opposite.

Finally just check how he is with sensory stuff like hair washing, different fabrics etc. as finding it hard to tolerate stuff like teeth brushing may at times indicate sensory difficulties which can also interfere with concentration abilities.

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