Do you have a child who doesn’t seem to listen? One who seems so easily distracted by what is going on around him/her? Distracted children ARE listening, they are just so perceptive of their environment, that they seem to pick up on every little sound, movement, touch etc. making it difficult for them to immediately focus on what Mum or Dad might be saying to them.
Trying to get a child’s attention while they are watching TV can be difficult, trying to get a distracted child’s attention while they are watching TV can be impossible!
My daughter gets very distracted in shopping malls with all the lights, sounds and people. Getting her to focus on what I am saying in such an environment can be very challenging! She copes with this stimulus by running or skipping, otherwise it just becomes too overwhelming for her.
When bombarded by information from his/her senses, the distracted child can have a hard time deciphering these different messages and sorting out which is the most important. This is why they may appear to look like they aren’t listening. They appear distracted, confused and unable to concentrate on the task at hand.
So how does knowing this help parents?
Becoming aware of the environmental stimulus that distracts your child can help predict situations that may be difficult for your child to ‘hear’ you. Instead of calling out and yelling at your child, get down to their eye level and get eye contact whilst gently touching their shoulders. Deliver your message and kindly ask your child to repeat their understanding of what you have said.
Also, let distracted children know what you think is going on for them by saying things like “Sometimes it is hard for you to hear my instructions with all these distractions around you” or “You notice everything that is going on around you”. This makes them aware and it will feel good knowing their parents ‘get it’.
Distractability is just one of nine traits that make up a person’s temperament. Over the next few weeks I will be exploring each trait and what they look like in the spirited child.