I have had the opportunity lately to observe Doo Dah in a 'class' situation. Being not yet 4, these situations are few and far between, but it was a very interesting exercise for me.
On the first occasion, he was involved in a guided bushwalk with a Ranger at the Wildflower Gardens. In this instance, Doo Dah was observed to be extremely enthusiastic. He was the 'teacher's pet' answering all of her questions (as loudly as possible it seemed) and spruiking his own stories of camping and bushwalks to boot.
I didn't know whether to be proud or horrified.
He was that kid. You know, the know-it-all. But his stories were relevant (mostly) and his face was lit up with such excitement that it was hard to be anything but enamoured with him.
The other observation occurred during his regular swimming lessons. Having had the Ranger experience the day before, I paid a bit more attention to his behaviour in the class. Doo Dah loves his swimming lessons. Again he is all enthusiastic and engaged.
But I realised that Doo Dah did not listen to one word his teacher said to him. Not once did he kick his legs in the way she instructed, or hold on to the side of the pool as she requested, or put his head under the water.
At one stage I had to remove him from the pool for 5 minutes when he obliviously did not follow the teacher's instructions, preferring to bob around with his bubble on, putting himself in danger.
I realised that despite attending lessons for the last 4 weeks, Doo Dah's swimming has not improved at all.
It isn't that he isn't capable. It is because Doo Dah is not listening.
He doesn't listen at home (remember the story of the meal time fiasco? and the pea turtle?). But it isn't just me he isn't listening to. It is other adults too.
This is a worrying trend.
I know that he is 'caught in the middle' between Nugget and the twins. He is still finding his way in the family and in the wider world. We give him a pretty long leash most of the time, but he has got to learn to listen. Right?
He is so full of life and smiles and happiness and, well, cheekiness that he gets away with being a little brat, now. That won't last forever. If we don't nip it in the bud, all the cuteness will be gone, but the bad behaviour will have stayed and it won't be at all endearing.
What strategies have you used to help your children understand the importance of listening?