Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The teacher's pet doesn't listen

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?


life in a pink fibro said...

To be honest, I think it's just an age thing. Three is a hard age - not quite big, not quite small. He's just working his way through it. My strategies to evoke listening skills involve a lot of shouting and the withdrawal of favourite things and privileges. The shouting isn't all that effective (and makes us all cross) but the second tactic seems to work.

x0xJ said...

We've gone/are going through this with Master B too. Smart kid, it's true, and a loving child too, but sometimes it's like talking to a brick wall.
My approach i took was to be a "hard ass" mum. But honestly, i end up feeling so guilty and like i'm just doing damage to our relationship. But sometimes the situation does call for it. Don't let little things slide, as in when you speak he stops, looks at you and listens quietly.
Also, i've done the whole "freedom of choice" approach, which i honestly love. It takes a little longer, but i leave him to make his own decisions, but i stay ahead of him, if he choses not to do something i ask of him, i don't do something he asks of me (whether it be fix him a snack, or help him with something) and i explain why i will not help him with his request ("Because you didn't want to do what mummy asked of you and if you don't want to help other's out, then they won't want to help you out") If he understands that i usually give in and help him with the pretense that he will be listening to me and doing as i requested the next time etc.
I find the second effective because it's changing the way they think. They're not doing what they want with reminder and prodding, they're doing it because they "want" to. It just takes a while. We're still in the midst of it.

Lucy said...

Truly, this sounds like you are describing my youngest - Lexie - who has just truned four. Verbose, excited, charismatic, adorable, but chooses to not listen, at all.

It is tedious in the extreme, but I find the "stop, get down on her level, talk her through the implications, threaten the consequence" approach the most effective.

It is slow and boring and dull but it means I control my temper with her and she with me. (We tend to screech at other enough as it is.)

It is getting better.

I am hoping it is just an age thing.....

MultipleMum said...

Thanks for that Lucy, LIAPF, xOxJ. I will follow your (combined) advice - I don't think I have been at all consistent with him. Glad to know others are in the same boat (in the nicest possible way of course).

Posie Patchwork said...

You're doing the right thing observing & giving it time. You're wasting your money if he's not going to listen & learn, so it's no biggie to pull him out & try again next round. Ask the teacher - i mean, the instructor should be approaching you & telling you if he's too young/ not listening/ should move, it's their job!! Have you tried asking him if he wants to stay in the lessons, it's not one of those 'you must finish' situations, you don't want a life skill like swimming getting screwed up. I found that boys who weren't in preschool were dreadful in swimming lessons. If it's one thing parenting 4 children (where my twins are the least alike & can therefore never be lumped together) they are all different, ready for different things at different stages.
Good luck, love Posie

Spayskdet said...

I know you are an SP and are seriously tuned in to communication issues but have you ever considered recurrent OME? Blossom has lots of listening difficulties, especially in noisy situations. I put it down to poor listening/attention. However the GP is convinced that she has recurrent OME by looking at her eardrum "scarring". She apparently gets a mild dose without a full blown infection so it goes under my radar.

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